Genetic Risk Factors of Glaucoma, and Prevention Tips

It probably is not a surprise to you to learn that family history is one risk factor associated the likelihood of developing glaucoma. However, further research conducted in 2010 by scientists indicates that there is a single-letter variation (SNP) of the human genome (Chromosome 7) that is associated with the type of condition that is most commonly associated with blindness: open-angle glaucoma.

It shows that heredity – and specifically, ethnic background, can play a role in an individual’s likelihood of developing glaucoma.

For example:

• Europeans are 60% more likely to have glaucoma as the SNP is very common; 6% of people with a European background carry it.
• Individuals with a Chinese background are also highly at risk. However, only 1% of the population actually carries the SNP. However, the location of the gene actually impacts the process where fluid drains from the eye. These individuals are more likely to develop glaucoma as fluid puts pressure on the optic nerve.

There are other individuals with differing ethnic backgrounds that are also in the high-risk category, in addition to those included in the study. However, this research study had more than 40,000 participants. Of course, certain lifestyle behaviors also contribute, as does family history; which increases the risk by up to 9 times, according to the Glaucoma Research Foundation.

Preventing Glaucoma

In order to reduce your own risk of developing this eye disease:

a) Get checked regularly – this means every 2-4 years before age 40, 1-3 years when age 40-54, 1-2 years for age 55 -64, and annually after age 65. If you are more at risk, you should get tested no more than every couple of years, even before age 35.
b) Protect your eyes – when doing an activity that poses a risk of injury, this is important. Injuries can increase your risk of glaucoma.
c) Exercise – this is said to reduce pressure on the optic nerve.

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