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Is Poor Vision Inherited?

man with glasses

A lot of things about your eyes are based on genetics, from their overall health to their color. But one thing that people often wonder is whether or not general poor vision is inherited. We’re often told that nearsightedness and farsightedness are caused by certain activities. How many times were you told that sitting too close to the television or reading in low light was bad for your eyes?

So which is the true cause of poor vision—environment or genetics? Keep reading to find out the answer.

The Genetic Factor

The genetics surrounding your vision are far more complex than just dominant and recessive traits that you may or may not inherit. There are likely several genetic influences related to poor vision, and each one will influence your vision in a different way. However, we’ll make it as simple as possible.

The short answer is that poor vision most definitely runs in families. According to recent studies, if neither of your parents are nearsighted, then you only have about a 1 in 40 chance of being nearsighted yourself. However, if both your parents are nearsighted, there’s a 1 in 3 chance that you will have the same vision problems. Obviously, there is a strong genetic factor here, but it is influenced by outside factors as well.

The Environmental Factor

Because it is, in fact, possible to be nearsighted when neither of your parents are, there must be external factors that can create nearsightedness in individuals. These are those activities that your mother probably warned you about—spending too much time on the computer or in front of the television, or reading in poor lighting. One study found that nearsighted children spent 2 more hours per week on these kinds of activities than those with normal vision, indicating that these environmental factors can influence your vision, regardless of genetics.

Be sure to have your eyes tested regularly, as your vision can change at any point in your life.