Is Glaucoma Hereditary?

Is Glaucoma Hereditary?

Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions, all of which damage the optic nerve located in the back of your eye. It sends electrical signals to your brain about what you see, so if it’s damaged, you can lose your sight. 

In fact, glaucoma is one of the leading causes of vision loss in people older than 60.

At Omphroy Eye Care, ophthalmologist Dr. Luis C. Omphroy diagnoses, treats, and manages glaucoma in his patients in the Aiea, Hawaii, area. He tests for glaucoma each time you come in for a complete eye exam, because early detection can prevent the disease’s progression and save your sight. 

Here’s what you need to know about the causes of glaucoma and how we can treat it.

Understanding glaucoma

Glaucoma occurs when the aqueous humor (fluid) inside your eye builds up, increasing the pressure on the optic nerve and ultimately destroying it. 

Normally, the humor flows out of the eye through a mesh-like channel called the trabecular meshwork. But if something blocks the channel or if the eye produces too much fluid to drain properly, fluid pressure increases.

While doctors don’t always know what causes the blockage to form, they do know some part of it is hereditary. You’re more likely to develop glaucoma if you have a family member who has the disease.

Glaucoma can also result from blunt-force trauma to the eye, a chemical injury, a severe eye infection, blocked blood vessels, high blood pressure, and some inflammatory conditions. Still, most cases are due to age or genetics.

There are two major types of glaucoma:

Open-angle (wide-angle) glaucoma

This type of glaucoma is the most common form of the disease. In open-angle glaucoma, the eye’s trabecular meshwork looks fine, but fluid still doesn’t drain properly. 

Glaucoma is often called the "sneak thief of vision" because most people don’t develop symptoms until late in the disease, the main one being the loss of peripheral vision. Since any vision you lose can’t be recovered, regular eye exams that test for intraocular pressure (IOP) are critical.

Angle-closure (narrow-angle) glaucoma

Angle-closure glaucoma is more common in Asia. In this case, the drain space between the iris and cornea narrows until the eye can’t drain properly, causing a sudden buildup of pressure.

Symptoms appear quickly and damage occurs quickly, so if you experience any of the following symptoms, contact us immediately or go to the nearest emergency room:

Treatments for glaucoma

No matter which form of glaucoma you have, the goal for treatment is to lower your IOP without damaging the optic nerve further. Treatments include:

Dr. Omphroy always discusses your options with you before deciding what’s best for your particular case.

You may have inherited your propensity for glaucoma, but regular eye exams can help preserve your sight. To learn more or to schedule a consultation with Dr. Omphroy, give us a call at 808-491-6513 today.

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