Millions of Americans are affected by glaucoma. This disease is one of the top causes of vision loss in individuals over 60 years of age. What many people don’t realize is that anyone, young or old, can develop glaucoma, often without realizing it until irreversible damage has been done.
Everyone is at risk of developing glaucoma. However, medical science has shown that genetics and hereditary elements do play a part in who will develop the major types of the disease. Scientists continue to study the links between genetics and this condition.
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a disease that causes pressure to build in your eye. This pressure then damages the optic nerve, which can cause a loss of vision. It’s the most common reason for blindness brought on by damage to the optic nerve.
Many types of glaucoma don’t present obvious symptoms. This makes yearly eye exams an important tool in maintaining the health of your vision. Because damage from glaucoma can’t be reversed, it’s vital to receive a prompt diagnosis so immediate treatment can prevent further optic nerve damage.
Is Glaucoma Hereditary?
People with a family history of glaucoma are more likely to develop it. People of certain groups also have a higher chance of developing the disease. While scientists don’t yet have all the answers, studies have shown some people are at greater risk, including:
- People who have family members with glaucoma. Open-angle glaucoma, the most common type of the disease, can be passed down. You are more likely to develop this disease if you have family members diagnosed with it.
- People of Asian descent. Those of Asian descent have an increased risk of developing angle-closure glaucoma.
- Older people of Hispanic descent. Older Hispanic individuals are at greater risk.
- Black individuals. Glaucoma is the second most common cause of blindness among Black individuals, with cataracts as the leading cause.
Catch Glaucoma Early with Annual Eye Exams
The best way to protect yourself against glaucoma is to schedule annual eye exams. These exams include tests to catch glaucoma before it can cause significant harm. Once you have received a diagnosis, vision-saving treatment can begin.