Family History, Ethnic Background, and Age All Drive Increased Glaucoma Risk

Are you more at risk for glaucoma than you realize? Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of preventable blindness in the world. Most surprisingly, of the estimated three million Americans who suffer from Glaucoma, more than 50% are not even aware they have it!

Despite a lack of noticeable symptoms, there are several important risk factors to be aware of as virtually EVERYONE is technically at risk for glaucoma.

Family Members with Glaucoma 4 to 9 times higher risk
African Americans 6 to 8 times higher risk
People Over 60 6 times higher risk
Steroid Use 40% increase in open angle glaucoma
Hispanics or Asians Higher risk
History of Eye Injury or Migraines Higher risk


The chart above underscores how family history and genetic make-up are far and away the biggest risk factors. If you have family members with glaucoma, you need to be screened. If you don’t know if anyone in your family has had glaucoma, you need to ask!

Age is another big risk factor, as is steroid use, which could mean extended use of steroid-based prescription allergy medications or inhalers for asthma.

How the Disease Progresses

Without screening and proper treatment, glaucoma can cause damage to the optic nerve at the back of the eye, usually from increased pressure from excess internal fluid. When the optic nerve is damaged, blind spots and loss of peripheral vision can occur, with the risk of blindness increasing as time goes by.

While high eye pressure is a big part of what causes damage to the eye when glaucoma strikes, it is painless, which allows the disease to progress undetected. Some late-stage symptoms that should never be ignored include:

  • Poor night vision
  • Blind spots in peripheral vision
  • Chronic redness
  • Severe headaches or eye pain
  • Glare or halo around lights
  • Watery eyes

Glaucoma is Treatable

If you have a family history of glaucoma or any reason to think you may be at risk, count on Medical Optometry America as a comprehensive resource for screening, advanced testing, and world-class treatment options.

Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in people over 60, but it doesn’t have to be. It is very treatable If you are unsure if you are at risk, an MOA Annual Eye Physical is a great place to start your journey to eye health. The state-of-the-art exams will provide thorough risk assessment and advanced testing for glaucoma and other serious eye diseases.

Our website offers more detailed resources on glaucoma if you are interested in learning more.