Are You at Risk for Glaucoma?

People with glaucoma don’t always show any symptoms, so it’s important to know if you’re at risk.

Glaucoma is the name for a group of eye diseases that can result in permanent vision loss. It develops when increased fluid pressure in the eyes damages the nerve fibers in the optic nerve and retina. This damage can lead to irreversible vision loss. However, if glaucoma is detected and treated early, its progression can be slowed or stopped.

If glaucoma is detected and treated early, its progression can be slowed or stopped.

Because the onset of glaucoma is frequently symptom-free, it’s important to be aware of the possible risk factors for developing it. According to Prevent Blindness America, it is estimated that over 4 million Americans have glaucoma, but only half of those know they have it. Anyone can get glaucoma, but if you fall into one or more of the risk categories listed below, it’s particularly important that you receive a comprehensive eye exam including dilating pupils every year.

Advanced age—The older you are, the more likely you are to develop glaucoma.1

African-Americans—Glaucoma is six to eight times more prevalent in African-Americans than in other ethnic groups.2

Family history—The most common type of glaucoma, primary open-angle glaucoma, is known to be hereditary. Doctors estimate those with a sibling who has glaucoma have almost 10 times the increased risk of developing it themselves.3

Hispanics—Those of Hispanic descent, especially in older age groups, are at greater risk of developing glaucoma.4

Asian-Americans—People who are Asian-American are more prone to developing angle-closure glaucoma and normal-tension glaucoma.5

High intraocular pressure—Those with abnormally high pressure within the eye are at higher risk for developing glaucoma.

Steroid use—According to a study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, March 5, 1997, research has shown a connection between longterm steroid use and glaucoma.

Eye injuries—Blunt trauma to the eye can cause traumatic glaucoma, and those who have suffered an eye injury are potentially at risk for developing secondary open-angle glaucoma.6

Diabetes—Having diabetes can increase your risk of glaucoma.7

  1. Glaucoma Research Foundation, “Glaucoma Facts and Statistics,” January 2009.
  2. American Academy of Ophthalmology, 2009.
  3. Glaucoma Research Foundation, “Are You at Risk for Glaucoma?” January 2011.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Ibid.