|Glaucoma risk factors|
Glaucoma can be specified as a group of eye diseases when changes are formed on the optic nerve and they lead to progressive damage of the papilla of this nerve. The formation of glaucoma is influenced by many various risk factors which we often cannot eliminate in any way and that is why it is good to know whether one does not have increased probability of the formation of this disease.
Risk factors for glaucoma
Intraocular pressure and glaucoma
Intraocular pressure (eye pressure) is considered to be the most significant risk factor of glaucoma. Most of the patients with increased eye pressure do not have their optic nerve damaged as it is also influenced by its resistance. Almost one quarter of people with glaucoma suffers from normotensive glaucoma. Delimitation of precise values which cause glaucoma disease is very difficult because it is very individual. Despite this the pressure of 21mmHG is considered to be a limit. Increases and decreases in intraocular pressure are more important than resulting average values. The goal of the therapy is to avoid extreme deviations.
The age plays an important role mainly in open-angle glaucoma. Children and newborns suffer from glaucoma very rarely and most of the patients exceed 40 years of age. Due to ageing of the trabecular meshwork intraocular pressure rises even in healthy people. In advanced age not only the number of risk factors increases but also the loss of nerve fibers occurs. The number of people with higher eye pressure increases with age and because the average life duration rises we should not ignore this fact.
Family burden caused by glaucoma
If someone in a family is diagnosed with glaucoma then whole family will become a risk group. Genetics is a very important factor. Patient's genetic code partly determines whether he is able to withstand certain level of intraocular pressure without any damage. Genetic risk of glaucoma is still very far from being completely explored as there is a lack of information to find a definite answer. However, it is certain that glaucoma is not caused only by one gene but rather by many genes.
It is very probable that the children of people suffering from glaucoma will suffer from glaucoma as well but it can also appear spontaneously. Congenital glaucoma, infantile glaucoma and juvenile glaucoma are all genetically conditioned disorders.
Ethnic origin is a very important factor. For example Japanese often suffer from normotensive glaucoma and intraocular pressure decreases during their life. Patients of black race have often higher eye pressure right from their childhood.
Gender and glaucoma
In spite of the fact that women and men have usually the same values of intraocular pressure, women are more affected by glaucoma than men. One of possible explanations is that women have more sensitive papillae of the optic nerve. Sex hormones play an important role in regulation of intraocular pressure. Intraocular pressure usually decreases during pregnancy and on the other hand increases during menopause. Women suffer mostly from closed-angle glaucoma and normotensive glaucoma. On the other hand men suffer mostly from glaucoma with pigment dispersion syndrome.
Atherosclerosis and glaucoma
Atherosclerosis is a very common health problem of contemporary society. Eye blood vessels can be affected by atherosclerosis in exactly the same way as other arteries. There is a certain link between atherosclerosis and glaucoma. People suffering from atherosclerosis have almost certainly higher intraocular pressure than healthy individuals of the same age.
Myopia (shortsightedness) and hypermetropia (farsightedness)
Healthy emmetropes, myopes and hypermetropes have the same average values of intraocular pressure. However, shortsighted eyes are more sensitive to changes of intraocular pressure and have worse perfusion. Farsighted eyes are more prone to the formation of pupillary block.
Circulatory disorders are primary causes of glaucoma. The occurrence of circulatory disorders in people suffering from glaucoma is more common than in healthy individuals of the same age. Vascular dysregulations, in other words an inability of blood tissue to accommodate to momentary needs, is the cause behind disrupted eye perfusion. The human eye is very sensitive to deviations of intraocular pressure.
Other risk factors for glaucoma
Thyroid gland disorders, diabetes mellitus, systemic vascular disorders and abnormalities of coagulation can lead to the formation of glaucoma.