Who Is At High Risk For Glaucoma And Is It Genetic?

Glaucoma is a common eye condition, but according to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, nearly 50% of people who have it are not aware. It’s usually caused by fluid build-up which puts pressure on the optic nerve at the back of the eye and can result in loss of vision if it’s not detected and treated early. In this guide, we’ll run through who is at a higher than average risk of developing Glaucoma.

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Man With Glaucoma Consulting Ophtalmologist

Glaucoma High Risk Groups

Over 60s

The Glaucoma Research Foundation reports that those over 60 years old are six times more likely to develop glaucoma. However, the risk begins to increase at 40. People are encouraged to get more regular eye tests as they get older, whether they have reduced eyesight or not, as glaucoma is normally present without symptoms.

African, Asian And Caribbean Ethnicity

Although it’s not fully understood why, ethnicity has a significant impact on the likelihood of developing glaucoma. Those of African, Asian and Caribbean origin are at the most risk and it’s the leading cause of blindness in people of African descent. The Glaucoma Foundation has also reported that those of Latino and Hispanic descent are at a higher risk than those of European heritage. A study has suggested that Indigenous Australians may be at a slightly increased risk of glaucoma, but that age is a more prevalent factor.

Other Medical Conditions

It has been found that those who suffer from diabetes are more likely to develop glaucoma, as well as those with extremely low or high blood pressure (hypertension). Other eye conditions increase the risk too, such as short-sightedness (myopia) and long-sightedness (hyperopia); but these people are more likely to be visiting their Optometrist regularly and get an early diagnosis.

Steroid Use

Regular, long-term use of steroids has been linked to an increased chance of developing glaucoma. This includes the steroids used in inhalers, as well as for oral immuno-suppressant medication.

Injury

Impact to the eye can cause secondary glaucoma, which can be spotted immediately or years after the incident. Trauma to the eye risks damaging the eye’s drainage system, which can increase eye pressure causing glaucoma. It’s always a good idea to visit a doctor after any kind of significant head injury.

Is Glaucoma Genetic?

Many studies have confirmed that glaucoma does indeed run in families. Primary open-angle glaucoma is the most common type of glaucoma and is known to be genetic.

This means that if close family members, especially parents and siblings, have the disease, you’re at a much higher risk than the rest of the population. It’s recommended that you have a comprehensive eye exam at least once every two years to keep on top of your eye health and make sure you have not developed glaucoma. If you are diagnosed with glaucoma, let your family know as soon as possible so that they can get tested and increase their chance of preventing any loss of vision.

The tests for glaucoma include testing your peripheral vision, measuring the dimensions of the optic nerve at the back of your eye and measuring the pressure inside your eye.

Glaucoma can be a life-altering disease that leads to vision impairment and blindness, but with the correct knowledge, we can evaluate who is most at risk and help protect them. If you’re in any of the above risk groups, organise an eye test with Pacific Eye Clinic today by calling 07 5647 3484.

Author

Dr Marc Wei

Dr Marc Wei

Dr. Marc Wei is the principal specialist laser and cataract surgeon at Pacific Eye Clinic in Southport on the Gold Coast. He has 20 years of trusted experience in advanced laser cataract surgery and has completed more than 15,000 procedures over the course of his career.

Dr Marc Wei

Dr Marc Wei

Dr. Marc Wei is the principal specialist laser and cataract surgeon at Pacific Eye Clinic in Southport on the Gold Coast. He has 20 years of trusted experience in advanced laser cataract surgery and has completed more than 15,000 procedures over the course of his career.