The Role of Genetics in Eye Diseases and Conditions

09/03/2023
the role of genetics in eye diseases and conditions

The eyes of a person are a very complex organ of the human body, and it helps us to see the world around us. Without our eyes, our life would be tremendously different. Despite the importance of the eyes, it’s important to mention how vulnerable and sensitive our eyes are to a huge range of diseases and conditions. Many of those diseases can be caused by infections, injuries, and other external factors, while others have a genetic basis. Here you can learn more information about the role of genetics in eye diseases and conditions.

Genes and Eye Diseases

Our genes contain everything regarding our human development, growth, and functions. Every person on earth has a unique set of genes that determent all their physical characteristics while at the same time, they can carry signs for the development of different diseases and conditions.

Many different eye diseases can be caused once those signs are triggered or by mutations and changes in the genes. There is an age-related disease called Age-related Macular Degeneration that is the leading cause of vision loss for people over the age of fifty years old. This eye vision issue occurs when the cells in the macula break down. This affects the sharpness and clear vision of the eye. People with these specific genetic variations are more likely to develop those diseases compared to people who do not carry this specific gene.

Moreover, glaucoma is a disease that scientists have not yet discovered the cause of it but it seems that genetics play a huge role in the matter. This disease damages the optic nerve and can cause vision loss or even blindness in the person. Research has identified a few genes that increase the risk of someone developing this disease.

Inherited Eye Diseases

There are some eye diseases and conditions that are caused because of mutations in the genes that are inherited to the person by both parents. Some of those diseases are called Retinitis Pigmentosa, which affects the retina and causes vision loss and blindness. Another one is called Leber Congenital Amaurosis, and it is a rare disease that causes blindness from early childhood. Congenital cataracts are another eye disease that starts developing in the early years of childhood and it is caused by a genetic mutation.  The list goes on since there are so many other common and rare diseases that can be treatable or dangerous for the patient.  

Genetic Testing and Eye Diseases

As medical studies and technology progresses, scientists and doctors get a better understanding of genetic mutations and how their increase the risk of eye disease development. Doctors can run tests and identify if the patient has a high risk of developing a disease, allowing in this way for the patient and doctor to work on treatment before the problem expands.

These early stages of testing can be applied to many different medical areas not only to eye doctors. Many women can detect an increased risk of breast or ovarian cancer which are the same genes that are linked to a type of eye cancer called uveal melanoma.

This type of testing is not for everyone and it is not always necessary for all patients. Genetic testing can be very expensive, and a complex procedure and not all genetic mutations are associated with an increased risk for a disease. 

Genetics play a very significant role in the development of various eye diseases and conditions. If you need to get in contact with a doctor regarding an eye issue, then make sure to check out Cyprus Eye Doctors and book your appointment.