Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness for those over the age of 60. It damages our optic nerve, cannot be cured, but can be managed if caught in time. Let’s learn everything we can about glaucoma, its signs, the risk factors, and especially, if glaucoma is genetic.
How We Develop Glaucoma
The optic nerve is the part of our eye that sends messages to our brain so we can see. If it becomes damaged, we can lose part or all of our vision. With glaucoma this damage is due to increased pressure in the eye known as intraocular pressure, or IOP.
That pressure increases if the fluid in our eye does not drain properly out of the anterior chamber. Although not everyone will develop glaucoma with higher eye pressure, it is one of the risk factors. Everyone is different and it depends on how much pressure your optic nerve can take without suffering damage.
Therefore, it is essential to have regular dilated eye exams withHecht Eye Institute to find out what level of eye pressure is normal for you.
Risk Factors For Glaucoma
Because early signs of glaucoma are almost non-existent, it is important to be aware of all the risk factors for developing glaucoma and be checked accordingly.
Risk factors include the following:
- Having high intraocular pressure
- Having thin corneas in the center
- Being over the age of 60
- Black, Asian, or Hispanic
- Having medical conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease
- Being extremely nearsighted or farsighted
- Having had an eye injury or certain eye surgeries
- Using corticosteroids for a length of time
- Family history
The last risk factor brings us to our question of genetics.
Is Glaucoma Genetic?
In the most common type of glaucoma, open angle, close relatives of patients are almost ten times more likely to develop glaucoma than in the general population, according to the Glaucoma Research Foundation. Many studies deduce there must be a strong genetic factor.
There are genetic risk factors associated with glaucoma in pediatric patients. Primary congenital glaucoma is the most common glaucoma for children younger than 3, and it is a major cause of blindness in children. Genetic mutations are associated in 15% of the cases in the US and most of the cases in Europe and the Middle East.
It’s a fact that those with glaucoma are under diagnosed because there are so few noticeable early signs. Genetic testing may prove to become more widespread as a way to identify at risk people and to provide early treatment.
If you have any of the risk factors for glaucoma, schedule a dilated eye exam every year withHecht Eye Institute.