Aging & Glaucoma: Risk FactorsVision is something we all tend to take for granted, until it starts to fail us. This week on the Griswold Blog, we will be discussing glaucoma risk factors, how to treat it and how to prevent it. We know it’s not a very pleasing topic, but when it comes to preventable diseases, knowledge truly is power.

This post will focus on the risk factors for glaucoma. But first, what is glaucoma? Glaucoma is not a single disease but refers to a range of eye diseases that cause damage to the optic nerve. When the nerves are damaged, a blind spot develops and if not detected and treated soon enough, this blind spot can be permanent.

Medical experts are not entirely sure what causes glaucoma, but in almost all cases, increased pressure within the eye (intraocular pressure) is associated with the optic nerve damage that characterizes glaucoma. This pressure comes from a buildup of aqueous humor, a fluid naturally and continuously produced in the front of the eye.

The biggest and #1 risk factor for glaucoma is age. Everyone over the age of 60 should be aware that they are at risk of glaucoma. However, for certain ethnic backgrounds, the risk is much higher, even at a younger age. African Americans are five times as likely as Caucasians to develop glaucoma. Other high-risk groups include Mexican Americans and Asian Americans.

Glaucoma may have a genetic link, so if you have a family history of glaucoma, you should be aware that your risk is higher. Medical conditions, like diabetes and hypothyroidism, and other eye conditions or eye injuries can increase chances of glaucoma as well. Certain types of eye surgery and prolonged use of corticosteroids, especially corticosteroid eye drops, have been linked to the development of secondary glaucoma.

We know all this information is a little scary, but there is good news! Glaucoma, if detected soon enough, can be treated.

Do you or a loved one suffer from glaucoma and have any helpful tips to share? If so, put them in the comments below. We would love to hear from you!