Genetics and retinal health

Most of the cells of our bodies contain a long molecule called DNA. DNA contains all the information the cells of our body needs to function correctly. DNA is arranged into regions, some of which are called genes.

Each gene is an instruction and tells the body how to make another important biological molecule called a protein.

There are many types of proteins and these are the building blocks of ours cells. Proteins make up the majority of our tissues and organs (e.g. muscles, nerves, eyes etc.) as well as drive most of the important biological reactions that are necessary to keep our cells healthy and functioning normally.

When our bodies make new cells they also have to make new DNA. Sometimes during this process small changes to the DNA can occur within the genes called mutations.

This process is normal and most mutations are harmless. However, sometimes mutations can alter proteins making them more or less effective at their job; can alter their length or shape; can cause too little or too much of the protein to be produced or can stop the protein being produced all together. It is these changes in proteins which can sometimes impair the functions of our cells and give rise to diseases which are often referred to as ‘genetic’ or ‘inherited’ conditions.