Glaucoma is a type of eye disease where the optic nerve becomes damaged and this has a negative effect on vision.
Although glaucoma can affect anyone certain people are much more likely to contract it. In this article I discuss some of the main risk factors for this eye disease.
Ageing is a natural process that happens to everyone. Unfortunately, as you get older your glaucoma risk increases. Once you reach 60 years and older you are six times more likely to contract glaucoma.
People who suffer from health disorders that affect the blood are much more likely to develop glaucoma. In particular, people who suffer from diabetes (which increase blood glucose levels) and high blood pressure (which increases blood pressure levels) have a higher risk for this disease.
People with a central corneal thickness of less than 0.5mm, eye injuries or high myopia (near sightedness) are at a higher risk for glaucoma. Eye injuries in particular can significantly increase your chances of contracting this disease as they may damage the eye’s drainage system and cause a build-up of pressure which damages the optic nerve.
Whilst having a family history of glaucoma does not necessarily mean you will develop this disease, it does increase your risk. If your brother or sister has glaucoma you are five times more likely to suffer from this disease compared with people who have no siblings with glaucoma.
Increased Intraocular Pressure
Intraocular pressure refers to the fluid pressure within the eye. For a long time increased fluid pressure was believed to cause glaucoma. However, more recent studies have shown that whilst it is responsible for over 90% of glaucoma cases and therefore a very significant risk factor, people with normal intraocular pressure can still get glaucoma.
African Americans are five times more likely to contract glaucoma than Caucasians. It is also the leading cause of blindness amongst African Americans but only the second leading cause of blindness in the world. In addition to this, glaucoma generally affects African Americans at a much younger age than Caucasians. African Americans aged between 45-65 years old are 15 times more likely to become blind from glaucoma than Caucasians within the same age group.
Asian Americans and Mexican Americans also have an increased glaucoma risk compared to the rest of the population. However, this risk is not as significant as African Americans.
Glaucoma can affect anyone but the risk factors discussed in this article make it much more likely. Many of these risk factors are beyond your control. For example, your age, family history and race are completely out of your hands. However, by getting regular eye exams and leading a healthy lifestyle which involves consistent exercise and a good diet you can keep your blood health, eye health and intraocular pressure in check.