Cataracts often occur due to changes in the tissue of the eye’s lens that result from aging or injury. As a result, the proteins and fibers in the lens break down, causing vision to become hazy or cloudy.
Certain inherited genetic disorders can also increase the risk of developing cataracts, as well as other eye conditions, past eye surgery, medical conditions such as diabetes, and long-term use of steroid medications. In this article, we will learn what are cataracts and whether they are hereditary.
What is Cataract?
Cataract is a clouding of the natural lens in the eye that affects vision. Here, the proteins in your lens break down and cause things to look blurry, hazy or less colorful. The lens is a transparent structure located behind the iris (the colored part of the eye) and is responsible for focusing light onto the retina at the back of the eye.
It is a common condition that affects many people as they age, but it can also occur in younger people as a result of injury, certain medications, or other underlying health conditions.
Symptoms of cataracts include blurry vision, difficulty seeing in bright light, trouble seeing at night, double vision, seeing halos around lights, and needing brighter light to read. Treatment for cataracts typically involves surgery to remove the cloudy lens and replace it with an artificial lens.
Can cataract be a hereditary condition?
It is possible. Certain genetic mutations can cause the development of cataracts, and these mutations can be passed down from parents to their children. However, not all cataracts are hereditary, and other factors such as age, injury, or certain medical conditions can also cause cataracts.
The occurrence of congenital cataracts is a rare event. The statistics report that this occurs in developed countries with a frequency of 30 cases among 100,000 births with a further 10 cases being diagnosed during childhood.
Additionally, the percentage of congenital cataracts due to hereditary causes is different as per different researchers. It is believed to be between half to one-third of all congenital cataracts are hereditary.
In both human and animal models, the genes linked to hereditary cataracts encode various proteins involved in lens development, such as structural lens proteins, gap junction proteins, membrane proteins, and regulatory proteins.
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