Are Your Eye Problems Genetic?

Mother and daughter hugging

How Your Family History Affects Your Vision

You may have inherited more than your hair color and height from your parents. The tendency to develop nearsightedness, glaucoma, lazy eye, and other conditions can also be passed from generation to generation.

Exploring the Way Inheritance Affects Your Eyes

Eye diseases can be passed on through recessive, dominant, or X-linked inheritance. Both parents must pass along copies of a faulty gene if a disease is inherited through recessive inheritance, while only one parent must carry the gene in dominant inheritance. In X-linked inheritance, diseases are passed from mothers to sons.

You may also inherit certain physical characteristics that increase your risk of eye issues or make it more likely that you'll need glasses. The shape of your eyeball affects your ability to see near and far objects clearly. In hyperopia, the eyeball is too short, which makes it difficult to see near objects clearly. A longer-than-normal eyeball is the cause of myopia (nearsightedness), which causes blurry vision when you look at distant vision. If your parents have myopia or hyperopia, you may be at increased risk for developing these vision problems, known as refractive errors.

Just because your parent has a refractive error, doesn't necessarily mean you'll develop one. Many factors are involved in vision issues. For example, exposure to sunlight and the amount of time spent reading or focusing on near objects during childhood may also play a role in myopia.

Do You Know Your Family Eye History?

Although refractive errors are easily corrected with eyeglasses or contact lenses, other vision problems may not be so easy to treat. Learning about the eye conditions and diseases that run in your family can help you protect your vision. Eye diseases don't always cause symptoms in the early stages. Unfortunately, despite the absence of symptoms, permanent damage may occur if you don't notice any changes in your vision or don't see your optometrist for regular vision exams.

Families often know information about relatives with cancer, high blood pressure, or heart disease but forget about eye diseases and conditions. The next time you attend a family gathering, ask if any of your relatives have had any of these inherited conditions and diseases:

  • Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD). AMD currently affects approximately 15 million people in the U.S., many of them older Americans, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology. The disease causes blurriness or blind spots in the central part of your vision.
  • Glaucoma. Increased pressure inside your eye and damages your optic nerve, causing permanent vision loss if you have glaucoma. According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, your risk of developing primary open-angle glaucoma increases by four to nine times if a close family member has this form of glaucoma.
  • Cataracts. You may be more likely to develop cataracts if other family members have them. Cataracts occur when the normally clear lenses inside your eyes become clouded.
  • Diabetic Retinopathy. Although diabetic retinopathy itself isn't inherited, type 1 diabetes, and in some cases, type 2 diabetes, can be passed on through the genes. Diabetic retinopathy damages your vision when blood vessels leak or abnormal blood vessels form in the retina. The retina, the light-sensing layer of cells at the back of your eye, sends images to your brain for processing.
  • Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP). RP is an inherited eye disorder that causes gradual loss of peripheral vision and night blindness.
  • Color Blindness. Color blindness can also be inherited. People who are color blind have difficulty recognizing certain colors. Some have trouble recognizing red and green, while others can't see blue or yellow shades.
  • Strabismus. Also called "crossed eyes," strabismus occurs when the eyes aren't properly aligned. As a result, the brain receives conflicting images from the eyes. Strabismus can cause blurred or double vision and depth perception issues.
  • Amblyopia. Ambylopia, or "lazy eye," occurs when the brain ignores the information it receives from one of the eyes. You may be more likely to develop amblyopia if you don't receive treatment for strabismus.

Do you have a family history of eye disease? Regular comprehensive vision examinations can help you protect your vision and ensure you receive prompt treatment if you develop a disease or condition. Contact our office to schedule your exam.


American Academy of Ophthalmology: Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Glaucoma Research Foundation: Are You at Risk for Glaucoma

Cleveland Clinic: Eye Disease Inherited & Genetic

PubMed: Ophthalmology: Risk Factors for Incident Myopia in Australian Schoolchildren, 10/13

Foundation Fighting Blindness: Genetics 101: How Some Retinal Diseases Are Inherited, 10/10/14


Find us on the map

Hours of Operation

We are closed for lunch daily from 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM

Brier Creek Vision Care


8:00 AM - 5:00 PM


8:00 AM - 5:00 PM


8:00 AM - 5:00 PM


8:00 AM - 5:00 PM


8:00 AM - 5:00 PM






  • "Excellent office. Staff is helpful and polite when dealing with my special needs child. They understand when he needs break and how to redirect to another technique to achieve goal. Would highly recommend to others!"
    Jennifer, Raleigh, NC
  • "I needed an eye doctor to see me for my concussion issue that effected my eyesight. There isn't many who are able to assess. Dr. Durham knew just how to work with my case in a gentle manner to help keep me calm. I finally have hope for healing now."
    Elizabeth 3/15/19 - Answer to Prayer
  • "Dr Durham is amazing. She takes the time to hear the patient and is extemely knowlegable."
    Susan 3/16/19 - Amazing
  • "All the staff were very helpful & Susan Durham was very thorough & professional"
    Jill 3/14/19
  • "Dr. Durham and her staff are the best and most knowledgeable dealing with brain injuries. Highly recommended!"
    Kristina 3/11/19 - Absolutely the best!
  • "Thought exam was personal, deteilrd and fully explained. Staff were prompt, kind, snd professional. I’d recommend Dr. Durham’s clinic to anyone needing eye care."
    Thomas 3/10/19
  • "The staff was very polite and extremely patient with my condition. Very specific about my condition and caring to help me recover. We will have a long road to recovery together."
    Elizabeth 3/11/19
  • "Didn't have to wait. Very thorough eye exam."
    Sandy 3/7/19 - Great eye checkup
  • "My visit was more than I could of asked for. I told my friends about my visit to the future. Dr. Dunham was extremely knowledgeable, concerned and determined to get it right, Her staff seemed to respect her greatly. staff was trained very well and gave me the confidence they knew what they were doing.
    I have already told my friends about my visit to the future."
    Patricia 2/24/19 - Everything was perfect.
  • "My daughter and I have have had great experiences at Brier Creek Vision! Dr. N. Is fantastic!! The office staff is super friendly, accommodating and very pleasurable to work with. Eye glass frames are plentiful and the opticians are helpful, suggestive and patient! Thanks to everyone for making all of visits wonderful!!"
    Cynthia 2/14/19 – Great Experience
  • "Dr Nakagawara is open, friendly and extremely knowledgeable. Karim Glover in the optical dispensary took great care in explaining and helping me to get great value on a new set of prescription sunglasses that will do much more than my previous set. Extremely happy.
    Loved the Optician!"
    Thomas 2/22/19 - Great Doctors and Team...
  • "I cannot tell you how happy I am with Brier Creek Vision. Everyone from the moment you enter, all the way through the appointment, is knowledgeable friendly and caring. I receive excellent and professional care. Highly recommend!"
    Helen 2/21/19 - Excellent care
  • "Went from 20/30 to 20/20! The sky is the limit with dr Patel. Will continue to bring both my kids here...."
    Temidayo 2/17/19 - Dr Patel Rocks!!!!
  • "I have had nothing but amazing experiences here! The entire staff is very friendly and knowledgeable. I have never walked away unsatisfied."
    Shelby 2/14/19 - Awesome!
  • "This office has all of the latest equipment and skills to take care of your eyes."
    Wales 2/6/19 - Great eye care!
  • "The atmosphere in the office is very pleasant and welcoming. I always feel comfortable in both the waiting room and the exam rooms. Selecting glasses is also a breeze, as the staff is extremely helpful and knowledgable."
    Kris 1/31/19 - Amazing Experience
  • "Our family visit was over the top. The entire staff took their time and made sure each and everyone's exam was through. No pressure to buy glasses. Our experience with Dr. Nakagawara was outstanding!!"
    Melissa 1/31/19 - Recommend
  • "I always have the best visit at Brier Creek Vision. My Doctor, Esther Nakagawara, is the best at what she does! She handles the procedures with care, caution and concern, explains well and has the best solutions to keep your eyes healthy. The staff is accommodating, patient and very kind to everyone; they never mind answering questions. The opticians are helpful in assisting with the selection of eyecare that looks good and works the best for you. I have told many people about my positive experiences at Brier Creek Vision and recommended this office as well."
    Kailah 1/30/19 - The Best in Eyeccare!!
  • "My family and I have been patients of Brier Creek Vision for 2 years. Dr. Nakagawara is a very caring and skilled OD who communicates, teaches and plans well. The staff and optometrists are inviting, knowledgeable and very helpful. We have recommended BCV to all our friends and family!"
    Cynthia 1/30/19 - Highly recommend
  • "I was thrilled to learn about the new Shaw lens concept to treat my daughter's amblyopia!"
    Molly 1/30/19 - Excellent Experience