The American Academy of Ophthalmology reports that of the nearly 3 million Americans who have glaucoma, half of them do not know they have it. Glaucoma, a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve, is called the “Silent Thief of Sight” because it often does not cause any noticeable symptoms in the early stages.
At-Risk Groups for Glaucoma
Here, the team at Laser Eye Center of Miami reveals the populations that are at increased risk of getting glaucoma.
Individuals over the age of 60 are at increased risk of developing glaucoma.
Research shows that African-Americans and Hispanics are more likely to get glaucoma than Caucasians, and individuals of those ethnic backgrounds tend to develop the disease at an earlier age. People of Asian descent are also at higher risk of developing glaucoma.
Family History of Glaucoma
Individuals who have close family members (i.e., parents, siblings) with glaucoma are more likely to get glaucoma themselves.
Health problems affecting the whole body such as diabetes and high blood pressure are linked to an increased risk of glaucoma.
Traumatic Eye Injury
A traumatic eye injury such as a hit or blow to the eye may increase eye pressure and/or dislocate the eye’s lens. Both of these factors can lead to glaucoma.
Long-term Use of Steroid Medications
Taking steroid medications (i.e., prednisone, hydrocortisone) for extended periods of time is thought to put people at increased risk of glaucoma.
What to Do If You Are At Risk for Glaucoma
Some risk factors like age and race are out of your control. But others, like your health and the medications you take, can be managed to mitigate some of the risk of getting glaucoma. In particular, our doctors recommend managing existing health conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure with the help of a trusted medical team. If you need to take steroid medications for health reasons, try to wean off of them as soon as possible instead of taking them for prolonged periods of time.
Perhaps the best thing you can do if you are at increased risk of glaucoma is to see a doctor regularly for comprehensive eye examinations. During an exam, the doctor will carefully screen for glaucoma by measuring your intraocular pressure and looking at the internal structures of your eye for any abnormalities. If your doctor detects an irregularity suggesting early-stage glaucoma, you can discuss steps to prevent or delay the progression of the disease.
Have you or a loved one already been diagnosed with glaucoma? The team at Laser Eye Center of Miami can help. Please call or email us today to request an appointment with our glaucoma specialists and learn more about your treatment options.