Hereditary Risk: Medium
Most Vulnerable: Kids whose parents had vision problems during childhood. "If both parents wore glasses as kids, a child has more than six times the average risk of being nearsighted," says Stuart Dankner, M.D., a pediatric ophthalmologist in Baltimore. The risk of developing amblyopia ("lazy eye")--a potentially vision-robbing condition that's often treated by patching the good eye--is doubled if a child's parent had it early in life.
Best Defenses: Make sure your child's eyes are screened during infancy. Assessments by a pediatrician are fine for most babies, but an ophthalmologist should examine those with a family history of eye diseases. Early diagnosis of amblyopia is especially important because treatment is most effective when it's started before age 3. General vision screenings should begin during the preschool years.
Originally published in the October 2005 issue of Parents magazine.