Glaucoma is one of the more common eye conditions people can have, especially as they get older. The disease is usually caused by a build-up of pressure in the eye.
The high intraocular pressure causes damage to the optic nerve, slowly narrowing your vision over time. It’s important to be aware of glaucoma. You should have regular eye exams to check for it because the damage it causes is irreversible.
If it’s caught in the early stages, you may be able to avoid further vision loss. Some people are at more risk than others when it comes to developing glaucoma.
That’s why it’s so important to know your risk. Your risk can be higher if you have a family history of glaucoma but it isn’t the only risk factor. Keep reading to find out if glaucoma is a hereditary eye condition!
It’s difficult to study exactly what genetic factors cause glaucoma. But scientists have been able to link certain genes to the most common forms of glaucoma.
These genes can be passed down to children. This means that if your parent or grandparent has glaucoma, you may also be at risk. But genetics is no guarantee that you’ll eventually get glaucoma.
Ancestry can also affect your risk of developing glaucoma more broadly. Studies show that people of African, Asian, and Latin descent have a greater chance of developing glaucoma.
This may be due to genetic factors, but the association exists and people with this ancestry are at a higher risk for developing glaucoma. Although, it does not mean every person with this ancestry will get glaucoma.
Other Risk Factors
While genetic factors do play a role in glaucoma risk, there are others that pose a similar risk. These include:
- Advanced age
- Trauma from a previous injury
Everyone above the age of 60 is in a high-risk category for glaucoma. Depending on what other risk factors apply to you, you may be at a higher risk earlier in life.
What you need to realize is no matter what your family history, there is a chance you can get glaucoma. It’s important to stay aware and have regular eye exams.
Awareness and Management
The best way to mitigate the risk of losing vision to glaucoma is to have regular eye exams. You can’t prevent glaucoma.
When spotted early, treatment can slow down the disease and preserve your remaining vision. Treatment can be as simple as taking eye drops daily to lower your eye pressure.
It can also include minor surgical procedures to drain fluid from the eye. It’s best to have treatment before there’s any vision loss. There’s no way to repair your optic nerve or restore any vision loss that’s occurred because of glaucoma.
If you know you are at high risk for glaucoma, you should have eye exams more often. This will allow your eye doctor to check your intraocular pressure and your optic nerve.
For people who exhibit more than one risk factor, yearly exams are best, especially after turning 40. Be sure to talk to your doctor about your risk for glaucoma.
This conversation must include your family history. They’ll be able to tell you how often you should have eye exams.
Have more questions about glaucoma? Schedule an appointment at The Nielsen Eye Center in Boston, MA!
We have Patient Advocates standing by to answer any questions or concerns you may have about glaucoma or your eye health. Contact us by calling 617-471-5665! Don’t wait if the health of your eyes is something you’re concerned about!