Researching our ancestors has become a popular pastime, especially with the advent of services such as 23andMe and Ancestry.com. But familiarizing yourself with your family tree is not just a fun hobby – it can uncover information that is valuable to your ocular health.
Some eye diseases, including the corneal condition keratoconus, have a genetic component. Not all cases of keratoconus are inherited but having a family history of keratoconus increases the risk of getting it. If one of your close family members has keratoconus, you are more likely to get it than someone without a family history.
Here, Brian Boxer Wachler, MD, of Boxer Wachler Vision Institute recommends steps to take if you uncover a family history of keratoconus.
Share Your Family History with Your Ophthalmologist
It is critical to share your family history of keratoconus (and any other eye diseases) with your eye doctor. Although your doctor cannot prevent you from getting keratoconus, he or she will be diligent about looking for problems in their early stages, before they become very serious. Catching keratoconus early and responding appropriately will greatly reduce your risk of losing sight and experiencing other complications.
Don’t Skip or Postpone Eye Exams
Everyone should see an eye doctor routinely for comprehensive eye exams. But life can get hectic, and it may be tempting to skip or postpone exams, especially if you are not experiencing noticeable vision changes. Do your best to attend all of your eye appointments at the recommended intervals. These appointments are opportunities for your eye doctor to establish a baseline for your eyes and monitor any small changes or abnormalities before they progress to something more serious.
Be Aware of the Symptoms of Keratoconus
Familiarize yourself with the common warning signs of keratoconus. These include the following:
- Blurry vision
- Double vision
- Frequent changes to glasses or contacts prescription
- Poor night vision
- Frequent squinting or straining your eyes
If you experience any of these symptoms, or if something else starts to feel “off” with your vision, promptly contact your eye doctor and request an appointment.
Prioritize a Healthy Lifestyle
Undergoing regular eye exams is the best thing to do for your eye health. Eating a healthy diet, being physically active, not smoking and wearing UV eye protection are also important ways to reduce the risk of developing an eye disease.
Dr. Brian is committed to working with patients to protect their ocular health and enjoy clear vision as long as possible. For more information about the diagnosis and treatment of keratoconus, please contact Boxer Wachler Vision Institute today.