Hereditary Eye Diseases
Disorders of the eye can be caused by infection, injury or complications from diseases of other organs, such as the brain or blood vessels. In addition to these influences, genetics play a role in predetermining a person’s susceptibility to eye disease. Pain and visual impairment are common consequences of eye diseases, and those with a familial predisposition to eye disease would do well to educate themselves on the effects of their condition and the options for treatment.
The condition commonly referred to as color blindness manifests not as actual blindness, but as an inability to distinguish the differences between certain colors. Inherited color blindness is most common in men, most frequently affecting the patient’s ability to detect the colors red and green, according to optometric technician Gretchyn Bailey of All About Visions. The visual discrepancies characteristic of color blindness result from a defect in the retinal cells that detect certain light wavelengths. Experimental gene therapy has been demonstrated to cure color blindness in monkeys, but a human version of this procedure is still years in the future.
Color blindness is a manageable condition, but may have repercussions for those whose careers depend on visual perception. Bailey notes that some persons with color blindness opt to use special color enhancing eyeglasses or contact lenses to lessen the visual distortion.
Glaucoma can be inherited, according to the National Institutes of Health. Congenital glaucoma is present when a genetic variation causes the fluid ducts in the eye to develop abnormally. A child who is born with congenital glaucoma manifests symptoms within a few months after birth. Symptoms such as cloudiness, light sensitivity, tearing and bulging can affect one or both eyes. Fortunately, surgery to open the ducts can prevent future eye problems in many patients with congenital glaucoma. The surgery is done while the patient is anesthetized and unconscious.
Persons with nystagmus cannot control the movement of their eyes, which sweep rapidly in a side-to-side motion. Dr. Burt Dubow, of Insight Eye Care in St. Cloud, Minnesota, explains that nystagmus can be congenital, and its effects can impact both the way a person sees, and the way that the person is seen by others. Self-consciousness about the way the condition impacts appearance can lead to self-esteem and social anxiety issues.
Persons with nystagmus can somewhat control their eye movement by turning their head into a position called the “null point,” wherein eye movement is locked and the image is stabilized.
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