Is glaucoma hereditary? Glaucoma, which causes vision loss, is related to the existence of high pressure in your eyes. If your grandparents or parents suffered from glaucoma, it’s natural to wonder whether this eye condition is hereditary. In fact, research has shown that some glaucoma hereditary factors do exist and you must be vigilant about them. Learning more about your family’s medical and ethnic history, as well as being alert to possible glaucoma symptoms, is your first line of defense when it comes to eye health.

Is Glaucoma Hereditary? | Understanding the Hereditary Risks of This Eye Disease


Family Hereditary Risks

The most common type of glaucoma is known as open-angle glaucoma. This form of glaucoma starts with blind spots in your central or peripheral vision and can progress to tunnel vision. Open-angle glaucoma is hereditary. Current research indicates that people with a family history of open-angle glaucoma are up to nine times more likely to develop the same disorder than are members of the general population.

Demographic Hereditary Risks

Another genetic factor affecting whether you’ll develop glaucoma is your ethnicity. Some groups seem to be at a higher risk of developing specific forms of glaucoma.

Asian people have been found to be more at risk than the general global population for developing angle-closure glaucoma. In addition to their risk of angle-closure glaucoma through their Asian heritage, Japanese people are at a higher risk of developing the normal-tension form of glaucoma.

While all humans may develop glaucoma after 60 years of age, those of Hispanic descent are even more prone to this eye condition after reaching that age milestone. People of African descent, including African Americans, are up to eight times more likely to develop glaucoma than is the general population.

Secondary Hereditary Risks

Secondary Hereditary Risks | Is Glaucoma Hereditary? | Healing The Eye
It’s possible for a family medical history to indirectly influence whether you get glaucoma. This is true even if the eye condition itself isn’t common in your family. For example, if you’ve inherited the tendency for asthma, your doctor may have prescribed steroids. Research indicates a link between taking in 14 or more steroid inhaler puffs and a higher likelihood of developing open-angle glaucoma.

Keep in mind, however, that those 14 or 35 puffs are generally needed only for those with severe asthma. If you happen to fall into this category, your eye doctor may recommend more frequent checkups.

High blood pressure can also lead to higher eye pressure. In many cases, hypertension runs in the family. With that in mind, along with adjusting your diet and exercise routine to lower your risk of developing high blood pressure, make it a priority to have your eyes screened.

Does No Family History Mean There’s No Risk?

Unfortunately, every person is technically “at risk” for developing glaucoma, especially what are known as the non-hereditary forms. If your eye doctor finds a fluid buildup causing dangerous levels of eye pressure, this may be an indication of glaucoma risk. Using prescribed eye drops can help keep that pressure from progressing to glaucoma.

Other non-hereditary risk factors include eye injuries. This correlation makes it even more important to wear protective goggles or glasses when working with tools, playing contact sports, or swimming in chlorine pools.

In addition, a sedentary lifestyle can rob you of a chance to reduce your glaucoma risk. Exercise reduces the eye pressure that can lead to a serious eye condition.

Reviewing Your Personal and Family History is Crucial

It’s common for doctors to urge older patients to get eye screenings, but hereditary forms of glaucoma can afflict younger people who may not have realized that they should be vigilant about eye check-ups. It’s important to ask your family members if they know of relatives with glaucoma or any vision problems.

In addition, step up your eye screenings if you’ve had a serious eye injury, even in the distant past. These injuries can put you at a higher risk for developing glaucoma somewhere down the road.


Watch this glaucoma alternative treatments webinar to help improve your vision:

Is Glaucoma Hereditary? | Healing the Eye

Even if you have a family history of glaucoma, it’s important to not live in a constant state of fear about developing this eye condition. Get regular eye screenings to minimize potential damage from glaucoma. Currently, there are no glaucoma cures, but treatment such as medicated eye drops, laser surgery, and oral medication can do much to minimize additional vision loss.

What treatments are you receiving to prevent progression of this eye condition? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

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