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Identifying what puts you at risk of developing glaucoma is crucial for the prevention of irreversible vision loss. Knowing that you have a higher risk of developing glaucoma means you can be best prepared to catch it early and reduce its impact on you.

What are the risk factors for developing glaucoma?

There are two groups of risk factors: those you can know of without an eye examination and those that require an eye examination.

Risk Factors You May Know About

family history of glaucoma
steroid use
eye injuries
significant long or short sightedness

Risk Factors You Need an Eye Examination to Know About

the major risk factor of raised eye pressure
the state of the optic disc
corneal thickness
the presence of eye diseases or structural abnormalities

What does family history have to do with it?

A family history of glaucoma is a very important risk factor. Glaucoma has a strong hereditary component, with approximately 40% of all individuals with glaucoma reporting a positive family history.

Having a first degree relative with primary open angle glaucoma increases your risk by 2-3 times the normal. If you have a sibling with primary open angle glaucoma then the risk is even higher.

Research around the world is now clearly establishing the relationship between mutations in certain genes, and the glaucomas. Genetic studies are beginning to identify particular sub-groups of individuals with glaucoma. Identification of glaucoma disease genes will contribute to greater understanding of disease development, and therefore prevention. It is potentially possible in the decades ahead that there will be a genetic profile that identifies your intrinsic risk of developing glaucoma.

If you have glaucoma then your siblings should most certainly have an eye examination and your first-degree relatives should also be encouraged to, particularly if they are over 40 years of age.


What is the difference between having a high-risk profile and having early glaucoma?

Identifying risk factors leads to an individual risk profile: the possibility of your eyes developing glaucoma compared to an individual who has no risk factors. Even though you may not have glaucoma, your profile will help your eye care professional make a decision about your future treatment plan or establish a routine of eye examinations to detect the disease early.


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