Are You at Risk For Glaucoma?

Everyone is at risk for glaucoma. However, certain groups are at higher risk than others.

People at high risk for glaucoma should get a complete eye exam, including eye dilation, every one or two years.

The following are groups at higher risk for developing glaucoma.

African Americans

After cataracts, glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness among African Americans and people of African descent. Glaucoma is six to eight times more common in African Americans than in Caucasians.

People Over 60

Glaucoma is much more common among older people. You are six times more likely to get glaucoma if you are over 60 years old.

Family Members with Glaucoma

The most common type of glaucoma, primary open-angle glaucoma, is hereditary. If members of your immediate family have glaucoma, you are at a much higher risk than the rest of the population.

Family history increases risk of glaucoma four to nine times.

Hispanics in Older Age Groups

Recent studies indicate that the risk for Hispanic populations is greater than those of predominantly European ancestry, and that the risk increases among Hispanics over age 60.

Asians

People of Asian descent appear to be at increased risk for angle-closure glaucoma. Angle-closure glaucoma accounts for less than 10% of all diagnosed cases of glaucoma. People of Japanese descent are at higher risk for normal-tension glaucoma.

Steroid Users

Some evidence links steroid use to glaucoma. A 1997 study reported in the Journal of American Medical Association demonstrated a 40% increase in the incidence of ocular hypertension and open-angle glaucoma in adults who require approximately 14 to 35 puffs of steroid inhaler to control asthma. This is a very high dose, only required in cases of severe asthma.

Eye Injury

Injury to the eye may cause secondary open-angle glaucoma. This type of glaucoma can occur immediately after the injury or years later.

Blunt injuries that “bruise” the eye (called blunt trauma) or injuries that penetrate the eye can damage the eye’s drainage system, leading to traumatic glaucoma.

The most common cause is sports-related injuries such as baseball or boxing.

Other Risk Factors

Other possible risk factors include:

  • High myopia (nearsightedness)
  • Hypertension
  • Central corneal thickness less than .5 mm.

Last reviewed on January 13, 2011

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