Eyesight is one of the essential senses that many people take for granted. It makes us see the beauty of the world, and most of our daily activities depend on it; driving, reading, and even enjoying outdoor activities. But have you ever wondered if eyesight is hereditary? Is our vision determined mostly by genetics or not? This article will explore the truth about whether eyesight is hereditary or not.
What is hereditary?
Let’s first understand what is hereditary before we delve into the question. Heredity can be defined as the process by which traits or characteristics are passed from one generation to the next through DNA.
What are genes?
Genes are the functional units of DNA that determine our traits, including eye color, height, skin color, and many more. Each person has about 20,000-25,000 genes, and the combination of these genes determines our physical and biological makeup.
Is eyesight hereditary?
Yes, to some extent, eyesight is hereditary as genetics play a role in determining our visual acuity. The genes that control eye development and function are passed down from our parents, which means that our eyesight can be influenced by our genetic makeup.
Understanding common eye conditions
Several common eye conditions can be hereditary, and knowing about them can help you understand whether your poor eyesight is a result of your genes.
Myopia, commonly known as nearsightedness, is a condition where objects that are far away appear blurry, while nearby objects are clear. Myopia can be caused by environmental factors such as reading closely or staring at screens for prolonged periods. However, studies have shown that myopia can also be hereditary. Children born to myopic parents are more likely to develop myopia, and the risk increases if both parents have it.
Hyperopia, also known as farsightedness, is a condition where objects that are nearby appear blurry, while those that are far away are clearer. Like myopia, hyperopia can be hereditary as well. If one or both parents have hyperopia, their children are more likely to develop it.
Astigmatism is an eye condition that causes blurred vision because of the irregular shape of the cornea. Like other eye conditions, astigmatism can be hereditary.
Is hereditary the only factor that determines eyesight?
No, heredity is not the only factor that determines eyesight. Environmental factors such as lifestyle choices, exposure to UV radiation, and injuries can also influence our eyesight. In addition, eyesight changes over time due to aging, disease, and injuries.
Lifestyle choices such as smoking, drinking, unhealthy diet, and lack of exercise can negatively impact your eyesight. For example, smoking is known to increase the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD), one of the leading causes of blindness in people over 50 years old.
Exposure to UV radiation
Exposure to UV radiation can also cause damage to the eyes, leading to conditions like cataracts, pinguecula, and pterygium. Sunglasses that provide UV protection can help reduce the risk of UV-related eye damage.
Injuries to the eye can also impact your eyesight. Trauma to the eye can cause damage and scarring, leading to vision problems.
How to maintain healthy eyesight?
To maintain healthy eyesight, it’s essential to take good care of your eyes by adopting healthy lifestyle choices and seeking medical attention when necessary. The following tips will help you maintain healthy eyesight:
- Eat a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
- Engage in regular exercise to improve blood flow to the eyes.
- Wear protective eyewear when necessary, such as when playing sports or working with machinery.
- Quit smoking if you smoke.
- Get regular eye check-ups.
- Avoid prolonged exposure to digital screens.
In conclusion, eyesight is hereditary to some extent, as genes play a role in determining our visual acuity. However, environmental factors also play a crucial role in maintaining healthy eyesight. By adopting healthy lifestyle choices and seeking medical attention when necessary, you can maintain healthy eyesight in the long run.
Common Questions and Answers
- Is it possible to improve my eyesight naturally?
Yes, you can improve your eyesight naturally by adopting healthy lifestyle choices such as eating a balanced diet, engaging in regular exercise, and taking regular breaks when using digital screens.
- Can poor eyesight be cured?
Some eye conditions such as myopia and hyperopia can be corrected using glasses, contact lenses, or LASIK surgery. However, other eye conditions may require lifelong medical attention.
- Does eye color determine eyesight?
No, eye color does not determine eyesight. The genes that determine eye color are different from those that control eye development and function.
- What is macular degeneration?
Macular degeneration is a condition that affects the retina and causes the loss of central vision. It’s commonly found in people over 50 years old and can be caused by genetics or lifestyle factors such as smoking and poor diet.
- Can eye injuries cause permanent damage?
Yes, eye injuries can cause permanent damage, which is why it’s important to seek medical attention immediately after an eye injury.
- Mayo Clinic (2021) Myopia (nearsightedness). [online] Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/nearsightedness/symptoms-causes/syc-20375556 (Accessed 22 Sep. 2021).
- National Eye Institute (2021) What Is Hyperopia?. [online] Available at: https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/eye-conditions-and-diseases/hyperopia (Accessed 22 Sep. 2021).
- Shrestha, S., Shrestha, U. and Maharjan, N. (2020) ‘Environmental and lifestyle factors contributing to myopia among school-going children in Kathmandu valley: A systematic review’, Clinical Optometry, 12, pp. 131-142. doi: 10.2147/OPTO.S268827.