Who's at Risk for Developing Glaucoma?

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Who's at Risk for Developing Glaucoma?

The Glaucoma Research Foundation estimates that over 3 million people in the U.S. have Glaucoma. Yet, only half of them know they have this disease.

This misunderstood disease can affect anyone, leading to blindness if left untreated. Because there are few symptoms until it’s advanced, it’s important to know the risk factors and have a regular eye exam. 

At Focus Refined Eye Care, Dr. Bimal Patel, OD, examines your eyes and has state-of-the-art technology for diagnosing the four types of glaucoma. He’s located in The Heights and Montrose sections of Houston, Texas. 

What is glaucoma? 

Glaucoma is an eye disease affecting the optic nerve and leading to blindness. There’s no cure for glaucoma, but it can be managed if caught early.

Since the symptoms include general feelings like headaches and eye pressure, you may not connect them to a significant problem. For that reason, it can be easy to miss the symptoms until the disease is advanced. You can prevent glaucoma by knowing who’s most at risk and getting regular eye exams.

Glaucoma risk factors 

Glaucoma is a common disease, and like many diseases, genetics, and age play a role. If we catch glaucoma early, we can often manage it with prescription eye drops or laser therapy. 

Family history

Genetics plays a major role in glaucoma risk factors. If you have a family history of glaucoma, your risks are higher. This is especially true if it’s a close family member like a parent or sibling. 

You may be genetically predisposed to structural abnormalities in your eye that can lead to glaucoma. Race and ethnicity contribute as well. For example, non-whites are at greater risk for glaucoma. African Americans are more likely to contract glaucoma, and those with Asian heritage are most at risk for a type of glaucoma called normal tension glaucoma


While glaucoma can affect anyone at any age, the risk increases past 40. There’s a type of glaucoma called “Primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG).” It’s the most common and related to the aging eye. Your eyes have a drainage system that keeps the right amount of moisture in your eyes. But, this drainage system becomes less efficient over time. That leads to a buildup of intraocular pressure (IOP.) This pressure damages the optic nerve, which can lead to blindness. 

Regular eye exams can catch glaucoma in its early stages, and we can create a treatment plan. 

Medical Conditions

People with diabetes are at higher risk of many diseases including a type of glaucoma called neovascular glaucoma. Those with heart disease and hypertension can also be at risk. These conditions affect the blood vessels in your body and can impact your eyes. 

Other risk factors include those with eye injuries, those with nearsightedness, thin corneas, and sometimes extended use of corticosteroids. 

While age, race, and family history are glaucoma risks that are out of your control, getting regular eye exams is very much within your control. Early detection is critical for your eye health and maintaining clear vision. 

Focus Refined Eye Care serves The Heights and Montrose neighborhoods of Houston, Texas. You can contact us here to book your appointment.