Why Is Family Health History Important For Vision?

Families can share many things across generations — like the color of our eyes or hair. And sometimes, that can include eye health. A family health history is a record of the things your family may share that could affect your health, including your eye health. Many hereditary eye diseases won't show symptoms until later on in life. In fact, many eye diseases progress without any warning signs at all. Gradual changes in vision often go unnoticed but can have a devastating impact on your ability to function independently. The earlier that you can detect and treat an eye disease, the better your chances are of preserving your precious vision!

Use these tips to learn about your family eye health history — then share what you learned with your eye doctor. 

Make It Convenient

Before you go in for your next eye exam, do some research on your family's medical history so that you can share this important information. Try talking about your eye health when everyone’s already together, like at a family dinner. Or you can bring it up while driving or doing a chore together. Telling your eye doctor the types of diseases that run in your family may prompt him or her to recommend more frequent eye exams. The earlier eye disease is caught, the better chances you may have of saving your vision. This exam can help diagnose or rule out a wide range of eye diseases and conditions, many of which have no early warning signs.

Start with why eye health history matters 

Try explaining why you want to know about your family’s eye health before you ask a specific question. You could say: 

- Since some common eye diseases can run in families, my eye doctor asked me to check in about our family’s history. Has anyone in our family had eye health issues? 

-I know that a lot of us wear glasses or contacts. Do any specific vision or eye conditions run in our family? 

-Keeping my eyes healthy is important to me. Is there anything I should know about eye health in our family?

Take Your Time

You don’t need to talk about everything at once — try splitting up the conversation. You could start the conversation over text and continue on the phone or in person. Aside from your family medical background, know that your age, race, and gender all play a factor into eye diseases that you may or may not be prone to. For example, nearly two- thirds of people affected by vision loss are female and elderly individuals with African ancestry are five times more likely to develop glaucoma. A little knowledge can go a long way when it comes to saving your sight!

Follow Up With Your Eye Doctor

Eye exams are an important part of an overall health plan. Just as you would tell your family doctor about your family history of heart disease, you should inform your eyecare professional about your family's eye health history. Knowledge of past and present family eye disorders can help save your vision! In fact, if age-related macular degeneration (AMD) runs in your family, you have 50 percent chance of developing AMD. And, according to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, having a family history of glaucoma makes you four to nine times more likely to get the disease. 

Write down any eye diseases or vision problems that your family members have had — and how old they were when the issues started. Then share what you learned with your eye doctor. They can help you figure out how to use this information to protect your eye health!

Schedule an Eye Exam Today

Contact the Gulf Coast Vision Center at our Pace or Crestview locations or at one of our Pensacola locations at Nine Mile or East Hill to schedule a comprehensive eye exam today.