Risk factors differ for the various forms of glaucoma.
The following is a list of risk factors for primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG), the most common form:
• Older age (>40)
• Black race (glaucoma strikes earlier and progresses faster)
• Family history (if a first-degree relative is affected, you’re at increased risk)
• Diabetes (people with diabetes are twice as likely to develop glaucoma as non-diabetics)
• Vascular diseases (i.e. both hypertension and hypotension can increase your risk)
• Raised intraocular pressure (fluid pressure inside the eye)
• Certain ocular conditions (i.e. shortsightedness, certain retinal detachments, central retinal vein occlusion)
• Long-term use of the oral contraceptive pill
Asian individuals have a higher risk of developing acute angle-closure glaucoma (AACG). The faster rise in the pressure can rapidly cause more severe damage to the optic nerve.
Risk factors that have been identified for acute angle-closure glaucoma are:
• Belonging to certain racial groups (Chinese, South East Asians, Eskimos)
• Older age (>60)
• Female gender (women are four times more likely to be affected than men)
• Family history (if a relative is affected, you’re at increased risk)
• Short eyes
• Far-sighted eyes
Reviewed by ophthalmologist Dr Tshilidzi van der Lecq. MBChB (UCT), Mmed (Ophth), FC Ophth (SA). March 2018.