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Is Glaucoma Hereditary?

Is Glaucoma Hereditary?

A gradual decline in vision is the eventual result of glaucoma, an eye disease that develops when pressure builds up on the optic nerve. The increase in pressure could be due to several factors, and there are various types of glaucoma with different causes. Some types of glaucoma are hereditary, meaning your family history puts you at a higher risk for the disease. 

Hunter Vision in Maitland, Florida, offers diagnostic services for glaucoma as well as personalized treatment to slow down the condition’s progression. Our exceptional optometrist, Dr. Elizabeth MacDonald, can help you explore your glaucoma risk factors during your next visit for an eye exam. 

The hereditary side of glaucoma

The most common type of glaucoma is called primary open-angle glaucoma, and it tends to run in families. If you have several relatives who have glaucoma or ancestors who are known to have had glaucoma, chances are you’re at a higher risk than the average person of getting it. 

If you have primary open-angle glaucoma, it’s because the configuration of the iris and cornea inhibits fluid from adequately draining from your eyes. As a result, your intraocular pressure (IOP), which is the pressure inside your eye, increases and presses on the optic nerve. 

In its earliest stages, glaucoma doesn’t cause any noticeable symptoms. Once you start noticing changes in your vision, you cannot reverse those changes. However, by acknowledging your elevated hereditary risk for glaucoma, you can take steps before the condition develops to monitor and maintain your eye health.

What to do if you have a family history of glaucoma

Knowing your family’s history of glaucoma, if there is one, is a crucial step in preventing accelerated optic nerve damage from the disease. Even if you don’t have it but know of family members who do, you should consider talking to our team about increasing the frequency of your screenings.

Screening for glaucoma is an essential part of your regular eye exams. Tonometry, or tests that measure the pressure inside your eyes, is a common component in eye exams that involves a puff of air aimed at your eyes. The air causes the front surface of your eye to briefly flatten, and a beam of light reflecting off your cornea moves slightly as this happens. Your optometrist measures how far the light moves to take a reading of your IOP. 

Even if you don’t yet have optic nerve damage, a high IOP shows that you have a risk for glaucoma and gives you the chance to make a few preventive changes. While you’ll still need regular screenings due to your family history, you can decrease your IOP slightly by exercising regularly. 

Our team might also give you some prescription eye drops to safely lower your IOP, which you should use according to their instructions. 

Ready for your next screening?

Even if you’re not sure of your family’s eye health history, glaucoma screenings can identify a risk for the condition before you have any damage to the optic nerve. Schedule your appointment with Hunter Vision with a phone call or on our website today. 

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