Glaucoma risk factors are discussed in this article.
Glaucoma Awareness Month occurs every January. During this time of year, we help raise awareness about this preventable form of blindness. Please share what you learn with your friends and family.
Glaucoma is a group of eye disorders that damage the optic nerve and lead to progressive vision loss. The optic nerve is a bundle of about 1 million individual nerve fibers that transmits the visual signals from the eye to the brain.
Glaucoma is a neurodegenerative disease because the neurons responsible for vision are degenerating. There are many theories about the causes of glaucoma, but the exact cause is still unknown.
Theories about the cause of glaucoma include:
- Mechanical in which there is a problem with the drainage angle of the eye causing high intraocular pressure within the eye.
- Vascular in which there is blockage of blood vessels in the eye.
- Biochemical in which free oxygen radicals cause cellular death to the neurons in the optic nerve.
- Genetic in which mutations in the CYP1B1 gene were inherited.
- Glymphatic which means there may be a defect in the macroscopic waste clearance pathways in the brain.
- Translaminar pressure gradient which associates intracranial pressure with the onset of glaucoma.
- Insulin signaling in which the theory is that glaucoma is a central nervous system condition that involves brain insulin resistance or a central insulin signaling dysfunction.
- Excitotoxic in which elevated vitreal glutamate—the neurotransmitter in the eyes, causes glaucoma.
Glaucoma Risk Factors:
- African Americans over the age of 40
- Hispanics over the age of 60
- Having abnormally thin corneas
- Having chronic eye inflammation
- Taking medications that increase eye pressure
Steroids are the most important medication to avoid because they can cause a blockage of the eye’s drainage system.
If you are at high risk for developing glaucoma, always talk with your doctor about the risk factors of any medications you are taking. Medications that can increase your risk of developing glaucoma are ones that can raise eye pressure or dilate the pupil and cause the iris to block the flow of fluid inside the eye. The risk involved in taking any medication depends on your current health and other risk factors that only your doctor can advise you on.