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What increases my risk for glaucoma?

There are a variety of risk factors that cause glaucoma. It can run in families. Older adults are at increased risk compared with younger people. Inflammation of the back of the eye, called chorioretinitis, can increase the risk of glaucoma. Some infections, such as congenital rubella, which is passed on to the baby while still in the mother's womb, can also increase the risk of glaucoma. Certain drugs can also increase the risk of glaucoma, such as a Topamax, which is used to treat chronic pain, migraines and seizures.

Glaucoma occurs 4 to 6 times more frequently among blacks than whites, and it increases steadily with age. You are also more likely to have glaucoma if you have diabetes mellitus, myopia (nearsightedness), or a family history of glaucoma.

Your risk of glaucoma is even higher if you have ocular hypertension, which is usually defined as an intraocular pressure (IOP) of over 21 mm Hg. This condition occurs in 7% to 13% of the general populace and even more frequently as you age -- in one-fourth of those over age 65. The likelihood of progressing to glaucoma depends on how high your IOP is and how long you've had high IOP. In one study, when untreated ocular hypertension of 17 to 20 years was investigated, more than 35% of the participants had developed glaucoma severe enough to require medical attention.

There are many factors you should be aware of that may increase your risk for glaucoma. Anyone over the age of 60 is at risk for developing glaucoma. African Americans over the age of 40 and a few other ethnic backgrounds are especially at risk. Family history is an important risk factor, because the condition may be genetically inherited. Other eye injuries are something to be aware of because they can cause increased pressure in the eye.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.