Is Bad Eyesight Genetic?

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Is Bad Eyesight Genetic?

Can you inherit poor eyesight? | Hereditary eye conditions | Genetic eye diseases | How to look after your eye health and vision

By Patrick Conroy
Reviewed by Beck Jinnette
Beck Jinnette

Reviewed by

Beck Jinnette
Beck has over 17 years of experience in eye care, holding her Certificate IV in Dispensing in Australia.
Poor eyesight tends to run in the family, but your genes aren't the sole factor in determining your eye health and quality of vision.
father and son wearing glasses, looking at a tablet

Can you inherit poor eyesight?

Our genes are the reason that we often resemble our parents. We can inherit physical traits like hair color, height, and facial features from them, as well as behavioral characteristics and medical conditions. Our eyesight is heavily influenced by our genes, so if your parents have vision problems, there is a good chance that they will pass them on to you too. 

Is bad eyesight genetic? Yes, it can be. Most eye conditions and diseases are hereditary, but not every case of poor vision can be attributed to your family history. Is your bad vision genetic for sure? Not necessarily. Other environmental factors can also contribute. Genetics alone does not determine your eye health and quality of vision, although it does play a significant role.

Which eye conditions are hereditary?

According to the World Health Organisation (2022), at least 2.2 billion people worldwide suffer from some type of visual impairment. The most common vision problems are myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism, which are all hereditary refractive errors. If one or both of your parents have one of these vision impairments, then you will likely inherit them as well.

infographic demonstrating myopic vision, hyperopic vision and astigmatic vision compared to unimpaired vision.
infographic demonstrating myopic vision, hyperopic vision and astigmatic vision compared to unimpaired vision.


Myopia is commonly referred to as nearsightedness or shortsightedness. Myopia occurs when the eyeball is too long, causing distant objects to appear blurry, while close objects can be seen clearly. 


Hyperopia is also called farsightedness or longsightedness. The opposite of myopia, it causes blurry vision at close range, but objects in the distance appear clear. A curved cornea, short eyeball, or a combination of the two is responsible for farsightedness.

Most of the time, this condition affects people over the age of 40, but it has started to occur more frequently in people in their 20s. This is attributed to the greater amount of time we now spend focusing our eyes on screens.


 Nearsightedness is both the most common refractive error and the most common eye condition worldwide. The BBC (2022) reports that it affects around 40% of adults in the US, and at the current rate, half of the world population will be myopic by 2050.


Astigmatism is another cause of bad vision. People with this hereditary condition experience blurred vision throughout their whole field of view as a result of the irregular shape of their cornea.

All of these refractive errors can be diagnosed by an eye test and easily treated with prescription glasses or contact lenses to restore normal vision. Regular eye tests are recommended every two years for adults and every year for under 16s and over 65s.


A cataract is a cloudy area on the lens of the eye that impairs eyesight. Cataracts cause 51% of all cases of blindness worldwide. Cataracts can develop due to a genetic predisposition, but there are many other unrelated causes. The natural aging process, trauma to the eye, exposure to UVB and other types of radiation, alcohol abuse, and smoking can all lead to cataracts.

a close-up of an eye with cataracts
close-up of an eye with a cataract

Genetic eye diseases

The following eye diseases are also linked to genetics. Again, that is not to say that the only way you can be afflicted with these diseases is to inherit them. Even with no record of these eye diseases in your family, certain environmental factors can lead to their development. 

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)

Age-related macular degeneration is an eye disease that blurs your central vision. The macula is found towards the back of the eye, and when damaged, it affects the ability to see faces clearly, read, and drive. If you have a family history of AMD, you have a higher chance of developing the disease. 

As the name suggests, age-related macular degeneration occurs later in life, usually not before the age of 55. It can be classified as wet AMD or dry AMD. With dry (atrophic) AMD, the macula becomes thinner, while wet AMD sees the macula damaged by the growth of abnormal blood cells around it. As AMD progresses, those affected experience greater vision loss.

infographic demonstrating myopic vision, hyperopic vision and astigmatic vision compared to unimpaired vision.
diagram of an eye with macular degeneration compared to a normal eye


Glaucoma is caused when the pressure inside the eye increases, damaging the optic nerve, resulting in poor eyesight and vision loss. It is the second-leading cause of blindness worldwide. There are usually no symptoms until the optic nerve has been considerably damaged, making glaucoma a particularly dangerous eye disease. 

Although everyone is at risk of developing glaucoma, that risk factor is four to nine times higher if you have a family history of the disease.

Retinitis pigmentosa (RP)

Retinitis pigmentosa is a degenerative disease that affects the cells of the retina. The first symptoms manifest as tunnel vision and night blindness, with loss of central vision sometimes occurring later on.

The RP gene is inherited via an X chromosome. It is possible to be a carrier of the gene without suffering from the disease itself. If both your parents carry the inherited genetic markers, you have a 25% chance of being affected by RP.

Although everyone is at risk of developing glaucoma, that risk factor is four to nine times higher if you have a family history of the disease.

How to look after your eye health and vision

We can’t control what we inherit from our parents, but there are at least steps we can take to promote good eye health and reduce our chances of developing eyesight problems. A lot of the efforts we make for the good of our general health also benefit our eyes. Everyone, regardless of their family history, should follow these tips:

  • Eat a balanced diet rich in nutrients like Vitamins A, C and E, zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin, and Omega-3 fatty acids. Good vitamin intake will go some way toward staving off cataracts and AMD. Omega-3 helps drain intraocular fluids, thus avoiding the high eye pressure that can cause glaucoma. Lutein and zeaxanthin are needed to maintain a healthy macula.
  • Drinking plenty of water and staying hydrated helps your eyes – and all the other cells in your body – to function properly, and can prevent dry eye from occurring.
  • Smoking is detrimental to almost every aspect of our health and increases the risk of developing many of the conditions and diseases mentioned in this article. Smoking can cause high blood pressure, which has been found to increase the risk of glaucoma.
  • Always prioritize UV protection when buying sunglasses. UV rays have many harmful effects, and exposure to them can lead to the development of cataracts.
  • Limit your screen time as much as possible. The increase in younger people developing long-sightedness is linked to their heavy use of technology and the extended periods of focusing on screens close to their eyes. To break up your screen time, use the 20-20-20 rule: Look 20 feet forward for 20 seconds every 20 minutes.
5 tips for healthy eyes and vision.
infographic with 5 tips for healthy eyes and vision.

Even if you haven’t been blessed with perfect genes, don’t give up on your eyes! Not taking care of them properly can worsen existing hereditary eye conditions, create new ocular problems, or even lead to vision loss.

Regular eye tests will spot any vision problems you may have, while regular eye exams will be able to detect signs of diseases and other eye health issues. Appropriate treatment can then be prescribed by your optometrist or eye doctor. 

If you have inherited a condition or disease, you’ll probably have to make some adjustments to your lifestyle or add some extra steps to your eye care routine. Although some hereditary conditions currently have no cure or effective treatment, vision rehabilitation can help make the most of what you have, and advancements in medical technology give hope for the future.

Reference list

Blindness and vision impairment (2022, October 13). World Health Organization. 

Mudditt, Jessica (2022), Why short-sightedness is on the rise,

Hazel Eyes

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Hazel Eyes

What determines eye color | Light and eye color | What causes hazel eyes | Hazel vs. green eyes | Are hazel eyes rare | Hazel eyes and eye problems | Colored contacts

By Claire Capuano
Reviewed by Sharlene Mckeeman
Sharlene Mckeeman

Reviewed by

Sharlene Mckeeman
Sharlene is a qualified dispensing optician with over 7 years optical experience, a member of the Association of British Dispensing Opticians and registered with the General Optical Council.
Hazel eyes are rare and beautiful, with only 5% of the population having these unique eyes. Read on to find out what causes hazel eyes.

One of the first things you may notice about someone is their eyes. Their colour and expression can be quite prominent, revealing a lot about an individual.

The human eye can reflect someone’s personality and ancestry, show the amount of melanin in the iris and even give a glimpse into one’s current health condition. Hazel-coloured eyes, while considered rare, are also thought to be one of the most beautiful.

According to researchers at the American Academy of Ophthalmology (2017), around 10,000 years ago, everyone had brown eyes. Today, approximately 70-80% of the world’s population have brown eyes, making brown the most common eye colour. While not the rarest colour, only 5% of the population have hazel eyes.

How is eye color determined?

The eye’s iris, the pigmented area surrounding the pupil, gives eyes their colour. Melanin is the pigment responsible for both eye and skin colour. Hazel eyes are in the brown family, but they feature other colour hues like green and amber in addition to brown. 

There is a complex network of genes that determine eye colour in humans. Most of these genes play a role in producing, transporting and storing melanin pigment. 

The more melanin you have in your iris, the darker your eyes are. Therefore, people with brown eyes have the most melanin. People with the least melanin have blue, grey, or green eyes. Hazel eyes have more melanin than blue but less than brown.

Babies are not born with the total amount of melanin in their irises. More melanin may accumulate in the iris in the first few years of life, causing a child’s eyes to change or darken. Blue eyes that change to brown develop significant amounts of melanin, while those that turn green or hazel produce slightly less.

How does light affect different eye colors?

Have you ever noticed that eyes change colour in different environments? This is because of how particular light and sunlight hit and scatter within the iris. Melanin in the iris absorbs different wavelengths of light.

Eyes with a higher concentration of melanin (darker eyes) absorb more light and reflect less from the iris. The opposite occurs in eyes with lower concentrations of melanin (light-coloured eyes); less light is absorbed, and more is reflected off the iris.

What causes hazel eyes?

Hazel eyes have been called the chameleon of eye colours, changing colour based on their surrounding environment. Are they green, gold, brown or a mix of all?

Hazel eyes are complex, and while what exactly determines hazel eye colour is still up for debate, researchers have narrowed it down to the amount of melanin present, scattering of light and perception.

Hazel eyes have a lower concentration of melanin, causing more light reflection off the iris. This higher level of reflection is why we tend to see changes in hazel, blue, or green eyes. The distribution of melanin can differ in parts of the iris, causing hazel eyes to appear light brown near the pupil and greener at the edge of the iris.

Our eyes can change color after birth as more melanin is produced, causing lighter eyes to darken.

What's the difference between hazel and green eyes?

The main difference between green eyes and hazel eyes is how melanin spreads in the iris. As mentioned, the melanin in hazel eyes may vary in different parts of the iris, causing different eye colours to appear. 

As light is reflected off hazel eyes, it produces other eye colours like green, brown or gold. The melanin in green eyes is more evenly dispersed, causing light to scatter so they appear as one colour: green.

Are hazel eyes rare?

Only about 5% of the world’s population have hazel eyes, making them rare. While anyone can have hazel eyes, they are most commonly found among those of Middle Eastern, Brazilian, Spanish, or North African descent.

The rarest eye colour is green, with only 2% of the population having them. Even rarer than green eyes is heterochromia, a condition where a person has two different coloured eyes. Less than 1% of the world’s population has this condition.

Are people with hazel eyes more at risk for eye problems?

There are some links between eye colour and health factors. People with light-coloured eyes are more prone to ocular melanoma, also known as eye cancer. This is because those with very light eyes have less melanin, a natural eye protectant.

Wearing sunglasses is a great way to shield your eyes from UV rays. Not only do they help you see clearer when outdoors, they protect against eye cancer and macular degeneration. Sunglasses are beneficial when spending time outside even on a cloudy day as UV rays are still present.

Changing your eye color with contacts

For those who are unhappy with their natural eye colour or want to try a different eye colour, coloured contacts may be an option. Contacts come in various styles, allowing you to experiment with anything from grey eyes to dark brown eyes.

Colour contact lenses require a prescription. If you don’t have one, you can see your eye doctor for an eye exam. An eye doctor can help you choose the best contact lenses for your lifestyle needs.

It is crucial to read the instructions to ensure you have the correct contact lenses and know how to use them. If worn improperly, they can cause eye irritation, infection, or even sight loss. Always speak with an eye care professional before wearing contacts.

What makes hazel eyes unique?

Hazel-coloured eyes reflect light in a way that makes them change colour. Considered unique because they feature a combination of various colours like brown, green and amber, they are often divided into hazel brown or hazel green eyes. To enhance your eye colour even further, try wearing different shades that bring out and complement your hazel eyes. 

Eye colour is a distinctive and beautiful trait that reflects a lot about someone. It is essential to remember that no matter what your eye colour is, you must take care of your eyes.

Seeing an eye doctor, wearing prescription eyewear if necessary and protecting them from UV rays are a few ways to get started. Head to our Optical Centre to read more about eye health or to speak with one of our in-house opticians. 

Reference list

American Academy of Ophthalmology. (2017, April 7). Why Are Brown Eyes Most Common? Retrieved May 3rd, 2023, from


How to get dust out of your eye

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How to Get Dust Out of Your Eye

Inspect eye | Options to remove | When to see a doctor | Chemicals in eye | Wood/Metal in eye | Permanent Damage? | Prevention

By Anna MacGabhann
Reviewed by Beck Jinnette
Beck Jinnette

Reviewed by

Beck Jinnette
Beck has over 17 years of experience in eye care, holding her Certificate IV in Dispensing in Australia.
As well as it being irritating, particles like dust should be removed to prevent any potential damage to your eyes.

Our eyes are an essential part of our body and must be taken care of properly. One of the most common issues that people face is getting dust or sand in their eyes. Environmental factors, dust and debris can all cause eye irritations or infections.

In this article, we will discuss some of the essential steps to take to remove any foreign body from your eye. There are several options you can take for this to be done at home, but there is also a point where professional medical care may be required.

Inspect your eye

The first thing you need to do before trying to remove any particles from your eye is to identify where and what it is.

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water before touching your eye area. This will help prevent the spread of bacteria and reduce the risk of infection.
  • Find a clean, well-lit area to inspect the inside of your lower and upper eyelid, as well as the inner corner. Ideally, you should use a bright light source, such as a lamp or flashlight, to help you see any debris in your eye more clearly.
  • Gently pull down your lower eyelid with your index finger to expose the inner surface of your eyelid.
  • Examine your eye carefully in a mirror. Look for any foreign objects, such as dust, dirt or eyelashes that may be stuck on the surface of your eye or under your eyelid.

If you can see the object, try to remove it with a clean, damp cloth or Q-tip or by flushing it with saline. Do not use your fingers or any sharp objects, such as tweezers, to remove the object in your eye, as this can cause contamination or further eye injuries.

Now that the object has been identified, let’s look at a few options you can take to remove it.

Option 1: Blinking

It may seem like a simple act, but blinking may be the safest and quickest way to remove a foreign object from your eye.

When we blink, our eyelids close and cover the surface of our eyes. This motion creates a natural cleaning mechanism that helps to remove any particles of dust or debris that may have settled on the surface of our eyes. The eyelids act like a windshield wiper, sweeping across the eye to remove any foreign objects.

The process of blinking also stimulates the production of tears, which are crucial for maintaining the health of our eyes. Tears also help to lubricate the eyes, keeping them moist and preventing dryness. They also contain enzymes and proteins that help to fight off infections and remove any harmful particles that may have entered.

Option 2: Flush it with saline or distilled water

If blinking does not remove the debris, it may be time to try and flush out your eye. Naturally, this may feel uncomfortable to do at first, but a steady stream of saline or distilled water to the eye may be the right solution to remove what is lodged there.

Use sterile saline or distilled water to flush out the foreign particle from your eye area. First, fill a sterilised cup or container with saline or distilled water and lean your head over a sink or basin. Next, open and close your eye while pouring the saline or distilled water over it. Continue this process until the particle is thoroughly flushed out.

Is it OK to flush your eye with saline?

Not only is it OK to flush debris from your eyes using saline, but it is also highly recommended. Saline solution is made up of a specific concentration of salt and water that is similar to the natural tears produced by your eyes and it is generally safe to use for eye irrigation.

Is it safe to flush your eyes with tap water?

It is generally not recommended to flush your eyes with tap water, as it may contain harmful impurities or microorganisms that could cause an eye infection or other eye problems.

Tap water may contain various contaminants, including bacteria, viruses and parasites. 

This can cause infections, such as Acanthamoeba keratitis, which is a rare but severe eye infection that can be caused by exposure to contaminated water. Chlorine and other chemicals added to tap water to make it safe for drinking may also irritate the eyes and cause discomfort. If you can, use saline solution or clean distilled water to flush out your eye.

Option 3: Use a wet washcloth or Q-tip to clean it

If flushing your eye out becomes too uncomfortable, another option is to use a washcloth to gently wipe the eyelid until the debris comes out.

First, ensure that you wash your hands thoroughly before touching your eye to prevent any further irritation or infection. Then, wet the washcloth with warm water and wring out any excess moisture.

Place the washcloth or clean Q-tip gently over your eye and blink a few times. This gentle move will allow the water to wash away the dust particles. Repeat the process until the particle is removed from your eye. Remember to use a clean washcloth each time you repeat the process or use a new Q-tip.

Your tears act as a natural cleaner for dust and debris. However, sometimes your eyes need extra help to get rid of particles; you can use saline or clean distilled water to do so.

When to see a doctor

If the foreign substance is severe and you are unable to get it out using the above methods, it is recommended to seek medical attention. An ophthalmologist can determine the cause of the problem and prescribe proper medication or treatment to alleviate the itching sensation and prevent infection.

Removing dust or particles from your eye is a task that needs to be done safely and correctly. If left unattended, it can lead to abnormal vision pain or even vision loss. Following the steps outlined in this article can help to remove dust from your eyes in a safe and efficient manner.

What to do if you get a chemical in your eye

If you get chemicals in your eye, it is crucial to act quickly to minimise the potential damage to your eye. It helps to safely flush your eye, as outlined previously, to dilute the chemical liquid. 

If you wear contact lenses, it’s important to remove them as soon as possible as they can trap harmful liquid inside the eye. Always consult medical help- even if you think the chemical is gone, a doctor will be able to assess the extent of the damage and provide appropriate treatment.

What should I do if I get metal or wood in my eyes?

If you can no longer remove objects from your eye using the outlined options, please consult an eye doctor. Whether the object is glued into the eye or buried in the tissue under the eye’s surface, you should go straight to the emergency room to fix this problem. If something is embedded in your eye, dealing with this at home is not recommended.

If you work in an environment where eye injury is more likely to happen, protect your eyes at all times by wearing the correct eyewear. Protective goggles can minimise the chances of hazards entering your eyes and causing long-lasting trauma.

Can dust in your eye cause permanent damage?

Dust particles in your eye can cause irritation, redness and discomfort. However, in most cases, they do not cause permanent damage to the eye. The eye has a natural mechanism to remove foreign particles. As outlined, certain types of debris, such as glass, chemicals, metal or wood, can be more dangerous and require immediate first aid.

Can you avoid getting dust in your eye?

Although getting dust in your eye is not preventable, it is essential to know what to do when the unfortunate happens. Knowing the correct steps to take is a great step toward personal eye health. Put your mind at ease with more tips and helpful advice like this by visiting our optical centre.

Are Blue Eyes More Sensitive to Light?

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Are Blue Eyes More Sensitive to Light?

Light sensitivity | Symptoms | Causes | Sun protection | Takeaways

By Emma Moletto
Reviewed by Sharlene Mckeeman FBDO
Sharlene is a qualified dispensing optician with over 7 years optical experience, a member of the Association of British Dispensing Opticians and registered with the General Optical Council.
Lighter-coloured eyes, such as blue, green, and hazel, are usually more sensitive to light. This is called photophobia.