Glaucoma can affect a person of any age (children to elderly). However people older than 60 are at higher risk of developing glaucoma. Factors which increase the risk of glaucoma include:
- High pressure in the eyes. Some people with open-angle glaucoma may have higher-than-normal pressure in the eyes (intraocular pressure, or IOP). However according to studies about 40% to 50% of people with glaucoma have normal IOP and most people with elevated pressures will never get glaucoma. If open-angle glaucoma is caused due to high pressure in the eyes it is very treatable. If the pressure of your eyes is elevated but you have no symptoms then it requires no treatment. However close and regular follow up is recommended to help detection of glaucoma in an early stage.
- Age. The risk of developing glaucoma increases significantly after age 40.
- Race. Some races are more prone to develop glaucoma such as blacks are more likely than whites to have open angle glaucoma and people from East Asia or with East Asian ancestry, are more likely to develop closed-angle glaucoma.
- Sex. Risk of glaucoma is higher in older women as compared to older men.
- Family history of glaucoma. If you have a family history of glaucoma, it increases your risk of developing the disease.
- Prior loss of vision in one eye from glaucoma. If there is loss of vision in one eye from glaucoma it increases the risk of other eye developing glaucoma in the future.
- Diabetes. People with diabetes are at higher risk of having increased pressure in their eyes than those without the disease. They are also at risk of secondary glaucoma due to growth of new blood vessels in the drainage angle of the eye (trabecular meshwork) which then blocks outflow of aqueous humor.
Most of the risk factors of glaucoma cannot be controlled or changed. However you can prevent damage to vision because of glaucoma by following the steps given here:
- Go for regular eye check-ups. People over 40 should have an eye exam regularly that includes tests for glaucoma (every 5 to 10 years). According to experts, if you have family history of open-angle glaucoma, and are aged 40 or older, have an eye test at least every two years. You might have to get it done more frequently if the optometrist (healthcare professional who tests sight) recommends it.
- If you have glaucoma, take follow your treatment recommendations and have regular follow-up with your ophthalmologist or optometrist. Treatment may not cure glaucoma totally as damage to vision caused by the disease can't be reversed. But it can slow or prevent further vision loss.