Is Poor Eyesight Hereditary?

Cause of Poor EyesightLots of things can cause poor eyesight. Most of the time, it’s a result of the environment –too much video games, TV, and everything else in between. There are several instances of poor eyesight running in the family as well. Overall, people visit local practices, including Complete Eye Care, to have their eyes checked for a wide variety of ills.

In the case of poor eyesight being hereditary, opinion is divided even among experts. Several point to nearsightedness and farsightedness having strong genetic components, more so if either or both parents have the condition. On the other hand, several conditions like glaucoma, amblyopia (lazy eye), or age-related macular degeneration were considered born of mixed causes.

Now, it’s time that the question is settled: is poor eyesight hereditary or not?

A Globe-trotting Foray

The genetic causes of poor eyesight are the focus of a study by an international team of scientists. In general, they pinpointed 24 specific genes associated with refractive error, which is considered the most prevalent vision problem worldwide. Refractive errors occur when the eye fails to focus light on the light-sensitive cells at the back of the eyeball, in the retina.

Genome-wide data from over 8,000 people of Asian descent and over 37,000 people of European roots were analyzed. Apart from identifying the 24 genes related to refractive error, the scientists also identified two more genes which were previously associated with the visual condition. The conclusion states that people with more variants of refractive error genes are ten times more vulnerable to have myopia (nearsightedness) than their peers.

Furthermore, the researchers managed to prove that refractive error genes seem to affect Asians more than Westerners (80 percent as opposed to 30 percent). It’s also worth noting that nearsighted people also harbor increased risk of developing severe eye conditions like glaucoma, or in extreme cases, even retinal detachment.

So, is poor eyesight hereditary? Likely yes, if you’re Asian. If you’re a Westerner, you’re at a lesser risk—but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re immune. Having parents with ample amounts of refractive error genes will decide your visual acuity’s fate.