Do Genetics Play a Role in my Child's Vision?


Does Genetics Play a Role in My Child's Vision?

Does your child suffer from nearsightedness just like you? He or she may have inherited the common refractive error. Nearsightedness isn't the only vision condition that has a genetic component. In fact, many eye conditions may be influenced, at least in part, by your genes.

Eye Conditions That Can Be Inherited

Do you or your family members have any of these conditions?

  • Hyperopia or Myopia. Your children may be more likely to be hyperopic (farsighted) or myopic (nearsighted) if you are farsighted or nearsighted. Although inheritance may play a role in these refractive errors, other factors may also influence whether your child needs glasses. Researchers who conducted the Sydney Myopia Study discovered that children who spent more time outdoors weren't as likely to develop nearsightedness.
  • Glaucoma. Glaucoma occurs when the pressure inside the eye becomes dangerously high. High pressure can damage the optic nerve, resulting in permanent vision loss. According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, primary open-angle glaucoma, the most common form of the disease, can be inherited. Congenital glaucoma, a form that's present at birth or develops in early childhood, is also inherited.
  • Cataracts. Although congenital cataracts can be caused by infections, trauma or metabolic issues, the condition may be inherited in some cases. Cataracts occur when the clear lens in the middle of the eye clouds, causing blurry vision. Cataracts may be present at birth or might develop soon after.
  • Strabismus and Amblyopia. If you had strabismus as a child, your children may be more likely to develop the condition. Strabismus, also known as crossed eyes, occurs when the muscles that control the eyes are weak and don't work together as a team. As a result, the eyes can appear crossed or one eye can point upward or downward. If your child isn't treated for strabismus, he or she may eventually develop amblyopia. Also called lazy eye, amblyopia causes the brain to ignore light impulses sent from one eye, effectively turning off or reducing vision in that eye.
  • Color Blindness. Your child may be unable to recognize certain colors if he or she inherited a defect in a gene responsible for producing photopigments in the cone-shaped photoreceptor cells in the retina. Red-green color blindness is more common in males and affects your child's ability to identify certain colors. Depending on the form of red-green color blindness, your child might see red as black or might see green or orange colors as yellow. It's also possible to inherit blue-yellow color blindness, although the condition is rarer than red-green color blindness.
  • Retinitis Pigmentosa and Other Rare Diseases: Your child may be at increased risk of developing certain rare eye diseases or disorders if you or the child's other parent have the disease or are a carrier. Retinitis pigmentosa occurs when photoreceptor cells in the retina degenerate, causing vision loss. First symptoms often include loss of peripheral vision and night blindness. Other eye diseases that can be inherited include Usher syndrome, Stargardt disease, choroideremia, juvenile macular degeneration, keratoconus, Leber Congenital Amaurosis and Kearns-Sayre syndrome.

How are Eye Diseases and Conditions Passed on to My Child?

Eye diseases and conditions are transmitted in one of three ways:

  • Dominant Inheritance. A parent who has the disease or condition passes the mutated gene to the child.
  • Recessive Inheritance. Neither parent has the disease or condition, but are carriers. If the child only receives a single copy of the mutated gene from one parent, he or she will also be a carrier. If the child receives mutated genes from both parents, he or she will have the disease.
  • X-Linked Inheritance: Mothers pass the disease to their sons via the X chromosome. The mothers themselves aren't usually affected, but may occasionally have a mild form of the disease.

Vision therapy can be very helpful if your child has been diagnosed with an inherited eye condition or disease. Therapy improves the brain/eye connection and also helps strengthen the muscles needed for good vision. The therapy uses games, activities, filters, prisms and other methods to improve and enhance your child's vision.

Would you like to find out if vision therapy could help your son or daughter? Call us to schedule a comprehensive vision examination.


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

Glaucoma Research Foundation: Are You at Risk for Glaucoma?, 10/29/17

Longevity: Eye Issues: Hereditary or Is Your Environment to Blame, 3/26/18

All About Vision: Myopia Causes – Is Your Child at Risk?

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

National Eye Institute: Facts About Color Blindness, 2/15


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  • "Before our daughter began vision therapy she was struggling with reading and sports. We thought she was just clumsy (walking into walls and falling a lot). My wife and I know something was't quite right; so we had our daughter tested for Central Auditory Processing Disorder, took her to an optometrist and to an eye specialist at a hospital. My wife's mother urged us to see Dr. Gordon. A significant visual tracking problem was found.
    After vision therapy our daughter went from needing extra help with reading to reading above grade level. She is now excelling in softball and has been named to the All-Star Team this year. She has become more confident and willing to try new things."
    "We can't thank Dr. Gordon's office enough for our daughter's success."
    Drew D.
  • "Before vision therapy reading was terrible. Nothing made sense on the paper. Vision therapy helped me with spelling and reading. I'm not skipping lines when reading and I love how I was taught to spell. I bring home 100's in spelling and reading is coming along too!
    I'm also on the Honor Roll at school too!"
    Elizabeth S.
  • "Our son was in 2nd grade when we found out that he had vision problems. He was referred to the occupational therapist in school for his handwriting. After her testing she called to tell us that all of signs were related to vision problems. Our son complained of headaches, motion sickness and very bad handwriting.
    Most of his teachers were telling us they thought he had ADD or ADHD.
    His attention span in school was short and he rushed through his work. He absolutely hated anything that had to do with writing.
    After starting vision therapy we saw improvements very quickly; as well as his teachers. His handwriting has improved tremendously and his posture is much better.
    We are so thankful for the occupational therapist discovering his vision challenge. We drove an hour and a half each way to Dr. Gordon's office for our weekly vision therapy sessions.
    The success of our son was well worth the drive."
    Amber W.
  • "What a difference! It has been an emotional roller coaster dealing with certain aspects of our son's left. But it was refreshing to know that we could count on the staff administering vision therapy to have his best interest in mind. To watch our son overcome the obstacles he had prior to vision therapy is worth everything. We absolutely recommend vision therapy because we have seen what it can do for our child. We are grateful for vision therapy and couldn't imagine his life without it!"
    Jerome K.
  • "I saw words differently and struggled throughout my childhood with my sight. After years of testing and appointments I found Dr. Gordon who diagnosed a Convergence Insufficiency. After a few months of vision therapy I was amazed at the my improvement.
    My life is truly changed!"
    Ella S.
  • "My son has always struggled in school. As an educator I looked for answers based on what I knew; learning disabilities, ADHD, etc. By the time he was in 4th grade I had to find some way to help my son. I realized that many of his symptoms were similar to many of my students who had Central Auditory Processing difficulties. Buffalo Hearing and Speech Center confirmed the diagnosis and recommended a visual processing evaluation. No one ever considered his reading challenges to be related to a visual processing problem. Since starting vision therapy his struggles in school have decreased, his math grades have improved as well as his reading; and he is more confident in his ability to succeed."
    Joanne L.
  • "Dr. Gordon is a developmental optometrist, which means...he is trained to deal with eye dysfunctions beyond simple near-sightedness/far-sightedness and...he can help improve vision through behavior programs. Dr. Gordon patiently worked with me to get the best possible prescription...He's a compassionate and very competent eyecare professional, and I strongly recommend him."
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