Risk Factors for Glaucoma
Glaucoma is a prevalent condition. It is the second most common cause of blindness worldwide. It affects around three million individuals in the United States alone.
Sadly, many sufferers are unaware of their condition in its early stages. That is because the symptoms of glaucoma can be subtle. There is no way to reverse the damage caused by glaucoma. That makes early detection and preventative treatment crucial in slowing the condition's progression and preserving the patient's vision.
Progression of Glaucoma
Glaucoma is a progressive eye disorder caused by increased pressure within the eye. The buildup of aqueous humor causes this pressure. In a healthy eye, this fluid constantly flows in and out, but in those with glaucoma, the fluid cannot drain properly. That leads to an accumulation of pressure that can damage the optic nerve. Consequently, this disrupts the messages between the eye and the brain. This leads to vision loss and other symptoms associated with glaucoma.
Glaucoma Risk Factors
Glaucoma often progresses slowly, with people losing most of their vision before experiencing symptoms. But early detection, diagnosis, and treatment can prevent significant vision loss. It is essential to talk to an eye doctor about your risk for glaucoma, especially if you have one or more of the following risk factors:
Neglecting Eye Exams
Not scheduling regular and comprehensive eye exams, including dilating the pupils, is a significant risk factor for glaucoma. Early detection is critical in preventing damage from the disease, and regular checkups with an eye doctor can help identify glaucoma in its early stages. If you are at a higher risk for glaucoma, it is important to schedule more frequent exams.
Age and glaucoma
Age is a significant risk factor for glaucoma, with the risk increasing as you age. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends getting a baseline eye screening at age 40. That is because early signs of eye disease and vision changes may occur at this age.
Hereditary Factors and glaucoma
Primary open-angle glaucoma, the most common type, tends to run in families. If any of your family members have glaucoma, your risk of developing the condition is greater. If you have a family history of glaucoma, it is best to inform your eye doctor and schedule regular eye exams.
Asian Americans and glaucoma
Asians have an increased risk of developing two types of glaucoma that are less common in other ethnic groups. These are angle-closure glaucoma and normal-tension glaucoma. Japanese individuals specifically have a greater risk of developing normal-tension glaucoma.
African Americans and glaucoma
African Americans are at a higher risk of developing glaucoma. The disease is one of the leading causes of blindness among this population. Glaucoma is six to eight times more common in African Americans than Caucasians. Additionally, it tends to develop at an earlier average age among African Americans.
Hispanics and glaucoma
Hispanic Americans have a risk of developing glaucoma that is similar to African Americans. However, the disease may progress faster as they age than in other ethnic groups.
Corneal Structure and glaucoma
The structure of the eye can be a risk factor for glaucoma. For example, individuals with thinner corneas may be at a higher risk of developing glaucoma.
Co-occurring health conditions and glaucoma
Certain health conditions can increase the risk of developing glaucoma. These include diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and sickle cell anemia. Researchers associate low blood pressure with an increased risk of open-angle glaucoma.
Refractive errors and glaucoma
Studies show that people with myopia or hyperopia may have an increased risk of glaucoma.
Corticosteroid use and glaucoma
The prolonged use of corticosteroids, an anti-inflammatory medication, can increase the risk of developing glaucoma. That is because it can lead to an increase in intraocular pressure. Long-term use of corticosteroids for conditions such as asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, or lupus can increase the risk of glaucoma.
Glaucoma is a severe eye condition that can lead to vision loss and blindness. Regular eye exams, early detection, and treatment are essential in preventing vision loss from glaucoma. Awareness of the risk factors for glaucoma can help identify those at higher risk and allow them to take necessary precautions.
For more on glaucoma, visit Progressive Ophthalmology at our office in Queens, New York. You can call 718-565-2020 to book an appointment today.