Are some people at increased risk of developing glaucoma?

Yes, there are several risk factors which make the onset of glaucoma more likely.

Age

Primary open angle glaucoma becomes much more common with increasing age. It is uncommon below the age of 40, but the number of people with the condition rises from about two per cent of people over the age of 40 to more than five per cent for those over the age of 80.

Blood pressure

People with low blood pressure, in relation to the eye pressure, are at greater risk. The eye doctor may want to ensure that the blood pressure is not too low and may review blood pressure treatment, if it is being taken.

Ethnicity

People of African-Caribbean origin are at four times greater risk of developing primary open angle glaucoma, when compared with those of a European origin. The condition also tends to come on at an earlier age and be more severe. Regular testing is therefore vital if visual impairment is to be avoided. People of Asian origin are at an increased risk of developing primary angle closure glaucoma.

Family history

There is an increased risk of developing glaucoma if you have a close blood relative with the condition (father, mother, brother, sister, or child). Eye examinations are funded by the NHS for people over the age of 40, but an earlier test is recommended, especially if you also fall into one of the other risk categories. If you have glaucoma, don’t forget to tell your relatives about the condition and the need for them to be tested. More information can be found in the IGA leaflet titled ‘Glaucoma and your relatives’.

Short sight

People with short sight (myopia) are at increased risk of developing glaucoma, and should ensure that they are regularly tested.

Long sight

Long sighted people are known to be at increased risk of developing angle closure.

Diabetes

People with diabetes may be at increased risk of developing glaucoma, although it is not known whether there is a direct link between the two conditions. However, all people with diabetes should have regular routine eye examinations for diabetic eye diseases and glaucoma tests can usually be requested at the same time.