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Are glaucoma and retinitis pigmentosa hereditary?

Q: My mother has glaucoma and retinitis pigmentosa (RP) for the last 13 years. She is completely blind. We have tried all means like surgery and medicines but of no help. We are two children to our parents. I am 32 years old and my sister is 31 years old. Till now we don't have any symptoms or problems with both the eyes. We go for a regular eye checkup every year to make sure we don't have any problem. Can we be carriers of the disease, even though we are not affected till now? I have a daughter of age 2 years 4 months. My sister has a boy of age around 5 years. What tests do we need undergo for our children to make sure that they are not affected? What precautions do we need to take?

A:Both Glaucoma and Retinitis pigmentosa are heritable but it does not mean all children will have it, also not all types of these conditions are heritable. So don't be unduly anxious. It is good to have an annual checkup for glaucoma for you and your sister. Your children should also be once screened. Since no definite preventive treatment is available at present, don't worry. Maybe in future, some genetic engineering works to change it prior to conception.

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