By: NALINI A. MADIWALE, M.D.
Ophthalmic Consultants of the Capital Region
Q. Both my mom and aunt have glaucoma; is it hereditary?
A. Yes, glaucoma can run in families but this is not the only risk factor. Glaucoma is a group of diseases that damage the eye’s optic nerve which can result in vision loss and eventually blindness if left untreated.
Open-angle glaucoma, the most common type of glaucoma, is often called the “silent thief of sight” because it has no symptoms until it’s in advanced stages. The people who have a higher risk for this type of glaucoma include:
- Patients with a family history
- African Americans over age 40 (glaucoma tends to be 8 to 10 times more severe in this population)
- anyone over the age of 60 and people with a very high degree of shortsighted vision.
Closed-angle glaucoma is also hereditary and can lead to sudden, painful attacks that can cause blindness. People who have farsighted vision are particularly prone to having a crowded drainage system and can develop angle closure glaucoma.
Simple laser treatment can help patients with a predilection for acute closure glaucoma. Like open-angle glaucoma, closed-angle glaucoma can be controlled but there is no cure.
>What you need to do now: If you fall in one of the high-risk groups schedule an appointment with an ophthalmologist for an annual comprehensive medical eye examination. Many people think a vision exam for eyeglasses or contacts is enough to detect glaucoma. However, this is not the case. Glaucoma can only be detected through special testing. With early detection and treatment your vision can be preserved for a long time.
Ophthalmic Consultants of the Capital Region offers comprehensive eye care. Locations in Albany, Clifton Park, Schenectady, Schodack, and Troy. To make an appointment call 777-2777 or visit myoccr.com.