Cataracts are a disease of the eye lense which results in cloudy, blurred vision, sensitivity to light and glare and other symptoms. They are the leading cause of blindness around the world. With cataracts, the lens becomes progressively opaque, and can do so unequally in each eye resulting in different vision in each eye.
There are many different causes for cataracts and they can work in combination to cause the condition. That?s why it?s important to consider both your genetic factors and environmental or habitual risk factors. Environmental factors which can lead to cataracts include smoking, excessive sun exposure, excessive alcohol intake, diabetes and more.
Research has shown that cataracts occur more frequently in relatives of cataract patients than in the general population, showing that genetics definitely plays a role. Let?s look at some of the genetic risk factors for cataracts.
A risk factor is something that doesn?t always lead to a condition but increases the risk of having that condition. For cataracts, a number of changes in DNA sequences near or in genes have been identified as risk factors in the past few years.
If a blood relative has developed cataracts, there is a chance they may carry a genetic risk factor and you may as well. In fact, inherited cataracts account for between 8.3-25% of cataracts developed within the first 10-20 years of life. Genetic testing can be done to determine if you carry a risk factor, but setting up regular eye exams is best because cataracts can form even without a genetic risk factor.
Recently, as many as 40 genes have been identified in mice which can affect cataracts, and 37 have been identified in a study: CCV; CCP; CTPP1; FOXE3; GSTM1; GJA8; GJA3; CNNP; CRYGC; CRYGD; CRYGS; BFSP2; GCNT2; ARCC1; EYA1; CAAR; PITX3; PAX6; CRYAB; MIP; CHX10; CCSSO; HSF4; MAF; CTAA2; CRYBA3/A1; GALK1; CCA1; FTL; LIM2; CTPP3; CRYAA; CRYBB1; CRYBB; CRYBB3; CRYBA4; and, CXN.