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Leber hereditary optic neuropathy

Other Names for this Disease
  • Leber optic atrophy
  • Leber’s disease
  • LHON
  • Optic atrophy, Leber type
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How is Leber hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON) inherited?

Leber hereditary optic neuropathy is an inherited condition that has a mitochondrial pattern of inheritance. The gene mutations that cause this condition are found in the mitochondrial DNA. Mitochondria are inherited from a person's mother, and as a result, only females pass mitochondrial conditions on to their children. Men can be affected, but they cannot pass the condition on to their children.[1]

Often, people who develop the features of Leber hereditary optic neuropathy have no family history of the condition. Because a person may carry a mitochondrial DNA mutation without experiencing any signs or symptoms, it is hard to predict which members of a family who carry a mutation will eventually develop vision loss or other medical problems associated with Leber hereditary optic neuropathy. It is important to note that all females with a mitochondrial DNA mutation, even those who do not have any signs or symptoms, will pass the genetic change to their children.[1]
Last updated: 12/2/2011

  1. Leber hereditary optic neuropathy. Genetics Home Reference (GHR). 2006; Accessed 12/2/2011.