Doctor giving an elderly man a glaucoma test

February 9, 2016

Glaucoma: Are you at risk?

Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the U.S., behind cataracts. The condition affects approximately 3 million Americans, of which only half have been diagnosed or know they have it. Glaucoma is not curable, and vision loss cannot be regained. With few noticeable symptoms in its early stages, how do you know if you are at risk? 

Defined, glaucoma is a condition that results in slow progressive damage to the optic nerve, which sends information from the eye to the brain. This damage to the optic nerve leads to a slow loss of vision. And left untreated, it can result in blindness. Diagnosis is key, of course, but there are certain factors that pose an increased risk of developing glaucoma.

Elevated Eye Pressure

Elevated eye pressure is the most important and most treatable risk factor for glaucoma. Inside the eye, there is a constant production of fluid that normally flows out of the eye through a very small drain. In certain individuals, this drain can become blocked for various reasons. The result is an increase in eye pressure, therefore increasing your risk of glaucoma.

Family History

Do you have a parent or sibling with glaucoma? Particularly if you have family members with open-angle glaucoma, which is the most common type of glaucoma and is hereditary, you pose a greater risk.

African American Heritage

African Americans are genetically more at risk for developing glaucoma. In fact, the Glaucoma Research Foundation notes that glaucoma is 6 to 8 times more common in African Americans than Caucasians. And as glaucoma has been reported to occur upwards of 10 years earlier in African American populations, the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends scheduling a thorough check beginning at the age of 35.

Previous Eye Injury

Previous ocular injuries, including a blunt trauma or a penetrating eye injury, can increase your risk for glaucoma over the long term. It's highly important to get the appropriate treatment soon after the injury occurs, so as to alleviate eye pressure issues, tissue damage or any scarring. Wolfe Eye Clinic has expertise in evaluating and treating glaucoma. We provide complete glaucoma treatment throughout Iowa, including Ames, Cedar FallsCedar RapidsDes MoinesFort DodgeIowa CityMarshalltownOttumwaSpencer and Waterloo.

Contact us to ask any glaucoma-related questions or to schedule an appointment with one of our glaucoma specialists: Dr. Benjamin MasonDr. Gregory A. Christiansen  or Dr. Ryan Vincent.