Glaucoma Can Be Inherited: What You Need to Know to Protect Yourself

A woman hugs her mother and they both look out the window and smile.

With January being National Glaucoma Awareness Month, now is a good time for adults of all ages to review their risk factors for this all-too-common eye disease. Specifically, glaucoma refers to a group of eye diseases that can result in permanent vision loss due to excessive pressure built up along the optic nerve.

Unfortunately, glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness and is asymptomatic, meaning by the time most people realize there’s a problem, it’s too late and permanent vision loss has already occurred.

What many people don’t know is that family history can play a major role in a person’s likelihood of developing this disease.

Family History as a Glaucoma Risk Factor

While literally everybody has at least some risk of developing glaucoma, there are numerous risk factors that can drastically increase a person’s chances. Some common risk factors, for example, include being over the age of 60, being African American, and having suffered from an eye injury in the past.

Furthermore, you have a significantly higher risk of glaucoma runs in your family. In fact, studies have suggested that in about 50% of diagnosed cases, glaucoma is hereditary. This is especially true among those whose siblings have developed the disease, making you ten times more likely to suffer from glaucoma at some point in your life if your brother or sister has been diagnosed. Still, regardless of your relation, any blood relative who develops glaucoma means an increased risk for you.

Be Proactive in Protecting Yourself and Loved Ones

The good news is that there are plenty of ways to go about protecting yourself. First of all, be sure to see an eye doctor at least once every two years for a comprehensive eye health exam. As part of your exam, a doctor should be able to use a special tool to measure the amount of pressure in your eye and rule out a glaucoma diagnosis. Furthermore, if you notice any potential symptoms of glaucoma, such as sudden changes in vision, be sure to schedule an eye appointment right away.

Now is also a good time to remind your family members and loved ones to be screened for glaucoma regularly. This is especially important if you have recently been diagnosed, as their chances for a diagnosis will have increased nearly tenfold as a result. Many times, glaucoma goes undiagnosed simply because people don’t get screened for it often enough.

If it’s been more than two years since your last eye exam and glaucoma screening, schedule your appointment with an experienced eye care professional today. At Florida Eye Specialists, we have years of experience in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of this common eye disease and are here to help you protect your eye and vision health. Give our office a call at (904) 564-2020 to find out more about our practice or to request your appointment with us today!