Glaucoma is a term used for a group of diseases that irreversibly damage the optic nerve, potentially causing vision loss and blindness. Commonly thought to be a sign of aging, in fact, glaucoma can strike anyone at any age. Glaucoma can be inherited; genetic and hereditary factors are considered to play a key role in all major forms of glaucoma.
Although everyone is at risk of developing glaucoma, individuals who have a family history of the disease are more likely to be affected. In fact, those with a family history of glaucoma are 4 to 9 times more likely to develop it. Glaucoma has also been linked to genetic mutations, meaning that you may be predisposed to developing it.
Primary Open-angle Glaucoma: Primary open-angle glaucoma is the most common form of glaucoma. Though the specific genes that cause this form of glaucoma have not yet been identified, it is considered hereditary based on collected research. Risk factors involve family history linked with other factors such as environment and interaction with other genes.
Early-onset Glaucoma: The term early-onset glaucoma is used when the disorder appears before the age of 40. Medical conditions, such as hypertension, as well as family history are risk factors for glaucoma, which is why it is most often seen in older individuals. When it strikes at a younger age, family history usually plays a role.
Primary Congenital Glaucoma: The term primary congenital glaucoma is used when the disorder appears before the age of five. In these cases, a child is usually born with structural abnormalities in the eye that prevent proper fluid drainage.
Glaucoma is completely asymptomatic in most cases, until the very end-stage when patients notice a problem with their peripheral (side) vision. It is important to have regular vision exams to monitor the health of your eyes, especially if you have a family history of ocular disease.
Whether you currently have glaucoma or have a family history of it, you can get help from our doctors at Pacific Eye Institute.