Glaucoma: Information for Patients

Glaucoma is  a collective term used to describe a broad range of eye diseases that can damage the optic nerve and cause loss of vision. It is particularly worrisome because most serious eye problems usually produce some symptoms that make patients uncomfortable or disturb their vision, but Glaucoma can begin without any symptoms or obvious loss of vision.

Risk Factors

High Intraocular Pressure: a key warning sign is having a higher than normal Intraocular Pressure (IOP). Anyone with an elevated Intraocular Pressure (IOP) is considered to be at risk for developing the disease.

Age : There is a direct relationship between age and the likelihood of developing Glaucoma. In fact you are six times more likely to get the disease if you are over 60 even if you have no other family or medical history.

Myopia: Certain patients who are severely nearsighted have a higher risk of developing the disease.

• Hypertension or High Blood Pressure: Patients who take medication for high blood pressure may be at greater risk for Glaucoma as a result of the medication lowering of the blood pressure and thus decreasing circulation within the optic nerve.

• Diabetes: Diabetes can cause general problems with circulation throughout the body-including the eye. As a result of the poor circulation, patients with diabetes have a higher risk of developing Glaucoma.

Family History: Any family history of Glaucoma is considered a very significant risk factor. If any members of your family have been diagnosed with Glaucoma, it increase the likelihood that you will develop Glaucoma by 4-9 times over the general population. This is particularly true for siblings of Glaucoma patients who have a 5-fold increase in risk for developing the disease.

• Other Glaucoma Risk Factors: In addition to these factors, if you have had trauma to your eyes (i.e. a sports injury or car accident) or if you have been treated for Asthma for long periods of time with steroid inhalers or have a corneal thickness less than .5mm, you too may have an increased risk for Glaucoma.