If My Parent or Grandparent Had Glaucoma, Am I at Risk Too?

If My Parent or Grandparent Had Glaucoma, Am I at Risk Too?

Our eyesight literally navigates us through our life. In fact, of all our five senses, vision is responsible for 80 to 85% of everything we perceive, learn, and understand about the world around us. This important fact is the premise behind the emphasis on routine eye examinations and vision screenings that started way back in elementary school when we read our first Snellen eye chart.

But the importance of clear vision doesn’t stop there. When our eyes are injured or damaged by eye diseases or disorders, our quality of life also suffers. Eyesight loss can make it difficult to do our favorite hobbies or play with our grandchildren, and to enjoy life to its fullest.

You’ve probably heard of eye diseases like glaucoma, and you may even know that it’s a leading cause of blindness. But do you know if it runs in your family, and what that may mean to your eye health? In this blog, the expert optometrists and ophthalmologists here at 

Paragon Eye Associates in Arlington and Mansfield, Texas, share their insights on glaucoma so that you can be vigilant about your eye health. 

What is glaucoma?

Let’s start unpacking this topic by first clearly defining what glaucoma is and what it means in the context of your eye health. Glaucoma is the name for a collection of serious eye disorders caused by increased pressure within the eye. If left untreated glaucoma causes progressive damage to the optic nerve, which may result in permanent vision loss.

Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States and the second leading cause of blindness in the world. More than three million Americans have glaucoma, but remarkably only half of them actually know they have it simply because there often aren’t any dramatic symptoms in the early stages. Sadly, for this reason, glaucoma is often called the “silent thief of sight.”

There are two main types of glaucoma — open angle and acute angle closure.

Open-angle glaucoma

About 90% of all glaucoma cases are diagnosed as open-angle glaucoma. Open-angle glaucoma develops slowly over time often with no noticeable symptoms. With this type of glaucoma, the buildup of eye pressure is caused when the fluid in the eye doesn’t drain normally.

Angle-closure glaucoma

Acute angle closure glaucoma, also known as chronic glaucoma, is much more uncommon than open-angle glaucoma. This type of glaucoma happens due to a blockage or a narrowing of the passage where the eye fluid drains.   

Glaucoma can be hereditary

Although glaucoma can happen to anyone regardless of age, race, or ethnicity, there are certain risk factors that may make you more likely to develop the condition, including family medical history. Specifically, if someone in your immediate family has been diagnosed with glaucoma you are four to nine times more likely to develop it as well. The risk of developing glaucoma also increases, as you get older. According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, people over the age of 60 are six to eight times more likely to develop glaucoma than the general population.

Certain races and ethnicities may also experience a higher risk of developing glaucoma. In fact, the risk factor for African-Americans runs four to five times higher than the risk for Caucasians. If you suffer from diabetes, you are also at a much higher risk for developing glaucoma.

Early detection through regular exams

The good news is that just because a family member had glaucoma or if you belong to a higher risk group, it’s not a done deal that you’ll get it as well. The best thing you can do to protect and preserve your eyesight is to schedule a routine comprehensive eye examination regardless of whether or not you wear prescription glasses or contact lenses.

The overarching goal of a comprehensive eye examination is to evaluate the health of your eyes. Generally many people come in for an eye exam when they notice changes in their eyesight. During your routine eye exam in addition to performing a refraction to test your visual acuity, your eye care provider performs a diagnostic test called tonometry to measure the pressure in your eyes.

Another test called an ophthalmoscopy allows your provider to check your optic nerve for damage. Your eye specialist performs this exam test during a dilated eye exam. This process enables your provider to get a better view of the back of your eye.

If you think you may be at risk of developing glaucoma and would like to learn more, schedule an appointment at Paragon Eye Associates by calling our office in Arlington or in Mansfield, Texas, or by sending a message to our team here on our website.

You Might Also Enjoy...

How the LenSx Laser Improves Your Eye Surgery

Are your concerns about eye surgery delaying your cataract treatment? The state-of-the-art LenSx® Laser system makes the entire process safer and more accurate — and it’s completely bladeless. Keep reading to learn more.

See a Doctor for Floaters if You Have These 5 Symptoms

Floaters don’t hurt, so you don’t need to see a doctor for them, right? Not necessarily. Eye floaters can signify an underlying condition such as retinal detachment. Take a few moments to explore five signs that it’s time to see the eye doctor.

When to See a Doctor About Dry Eyes

Are you embarrassed by red or dry eyes? Over-the-counter drops may provide temporary relief, but the key to lasting relief is to pinpoint the underlying cause of dry eyes, or dry eye disease. Find out when you should see a doctor about dry eyes.

Why You Shouldn't Ignore a Cataract

You might not know you have cataracts until an eye doctor spots them at your checkup. Learning that you have a cataract in one or both eyes might explain some symptoms you’re having. After your diagnosis, it’s essential to have the cataract removed.

Can Diabetes Cause Blindness?

Diabetes can cause various eye diseases that lead to vision loss and blindness. Before you ever reach those outcomes, however, you can take steps to protect your sight.