Are Refractive Errors Hereditary?

shutterstock_286874381If you have recently been diagnosed with a refractive error and are considering laser vision correction, you probably have many questions about how your condition developed. Fortunately, Bochner Eye Institute has the answers. Our Toronto LASIK surgeons thought it would be helpful to blog about refractive errors and how most patients acquire them. (And as the title of this post implies, there is a correlation between genetic factors and the risk of developing a refractive error.)

Understanding Refractive Errors

First, let’s review the basics of refractive errors. Refractive errors are problems with the eye’s structures that affect refraction, or the process of bending and focusing light that enters the eye onto the retina. The most common refractive errors are nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism.

Nearsightedness, or myopia, occurs when the eyeball is too long or the cornea is overly curved. This causes light entering the eye to focus in front of the retina, instead of on it. As a result, distant objects appear blurry but near vision maintains clarity.

Farsightedness, or hyperopia, occurs when the eyeball is too short or the cornea does not have enough curvature. This causes light entering the eye to focus behind the retina and, as a result, nearby objects appear distorted or blurry, while distant objects can be seen clearly.

Astigmatism is a condition in which the cornea has an abnormal or asymmetrical curvature, where the cornea is curved in one direction more than in another. A normal cornea has a spherical shape, like a basketball, but a cornea with astigmatism has a conical shape, like a football. The result can be blurred vision at all distances.

Many Cases Are Inherited

According to what scientists have found, refractive errors are often inherited. If one or both parents have a refractive error, a child is more likely to suffer from one as well. Babies may be born with refractive errors and the conditions can worsen over time. It is critical to catch these errors in their earliest stages through a comprehensive eye exam with an ophthalmologist, in order to fix them.

In addition to genetic factors, refractive errors can develop as a result of the following:

  • Eye injury
  • Eye disease
  • Complications from eye surgery

Bochner Eye Institute Can Help

LASIK is a laser vision correction procedure that corrects refractive errors for clear, crisp vision without visual aids. If you experience blurry or distorted vision due to a refractive error — inherited or not — LASIK at Bochner Eye Institute may be able to help. Contact our practice to request an informational consultation with our LASIK surgeons and learn more. Call 416-960-2020 or email us today.