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Risk Factors for Glaucoma

The following are risk factors as outlined by the Mayo Clinic:

  • Elevated internal eye pressure (intraocular pressure). If your intraocular pressure is higher than normal, you're at increased risk of developing glaucoma, though not everyone with elevated intraocular pressure develops the disease.
  • Age. Everyone older than 60 is at increased risk of glaucoma. For certain population groups such as African-Americans, the risk is much higher than expected. African-Americans should begin to have their eye pressure monitored before age 30.
  • Ethnic background. African-Americans are six to eight times more likely to get glaucoma than Caucasians, and are much more likely to experience permanent blindness as a result. Hispanic-Americans also face an increased risk. Asian-Americans are at slightly higher risk of angle-closure glaucoma, and Japanese-Americans are at a greater risk of developing low-tension glaucoma. The reasons for these differences in elevated risk aren't clear.
  • Family history of glaucoma. If you have a family history of glaucoma, you have a much greater risk of developing it. Glaucoma may have a genetic link, meaning there's a defect in one or more genes, causing certain individuals to be unusually susceptible to the disease. A form of juvenile open-angle glaucoma has been clearly linked to genetic abnormalities.
  • Medical conditions. Diabetes increases your risk of developing glaucoma. A history of high blood pressure or heart disease also can increase your risk, as can hypothyroidism.
  • Other eye conditions. Severe eye injuries can result in increased eye pressure. Injury can also dislocate the lens, closing the drainage angle. Other risk factors include retinal detachment, eye tumors and eye inflammations, such as chronic uveitis and iritis. Certain types of eye surgery also may trigger secondary glaucoma.
  • Nearsightedness. Nearsightedness (meaning objects in the distance look fuzzy without glasses or contacts) increases the risk of developing glaucoma.
  • Prolonged corticosteroid use. Using corticosteroids for prolonged periods of time appears to put you at risk of getting secondary glaucoma. This is especially true if you use corticosteroid eye drops.