Is Glaucoma Hereditary? | SightMD Skip to main content

February 20, 2024

By: Amy Mehta, MD

Understanding the Hereditary Nature of Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a serious eye condition affecting millions worldwide, yet it remains widely misunderstood and often undiagnosed until irreversible damage has occurred. As a leading cause of blindness, glaucoma poses a significant threat to vision if left untreated.

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma encompasses a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve, leading to gradual vision loss. Intraocular pressure plays a critical role in causing this damage, but other factors such as genetics, age, and ethnicity also contribute. If left untreated, glaucoma can result in permanent vision loss, making early detection and intervention crucial.

The Hereditary Aspect of Glaucoma

Studies have shown that glaucoma can indeed be hereditary, with individuals having a family history of the condition at increased risk. However, it’s essential to understand that a family history does not guarantee the development of glaucoma. While genetics play a significant role, other factors such as lifestyle and environment also influence the risk.

Types of Glaucoma

There are two main types of glaucoma: open-angle glaucoma and angle-closure glaucoma.

  • Open-angle glaucoma, the most common form, often has a hereditary component, with a higher risk among individuals with affected family members.
  • Angle-closure glaucoma, on the other hand, is characterized by a narrow angle between the iris and cornea, which can be hereditary but may also result from age-related changes.

Hereditary Nature of Narrow Angle Glaucoma

Narrow angle glaucoma can be hereditary, with the inherited narrow angle between the iris and cornea predisposing individuals to the condition. Factors such as age, ethnicity, and eye anatomy also play a role in the development of narrow angle glaucoma, highlighting the complex interplay between genetics and other risk factors.

Hereditary Risk from Grandparents

While glaucoma risk can be passed down through generations, it’s important to clarify that it’s not solely inherited from grandparents. Having a grandparent with glaucoma does increase the risk, but it is not the only determining factor. Understanding family history and the inheritance patterns of glaucoma can help individuals and their healthcare providers assess their risk and take proactive steps to protect vision.

Treatment for Glaucoma at SightMD

The hereditary nature of glaucoma underscores the importance of knowing family history and getting regular eye exams, especially for individuals with a family history of the condition. By staying informed and proactive, individuals can take steps to preserve their vision and the vision of their loved ones for generations to come. At SightMD, we’re dedicated to providing comprehensive eye care and support to help our patients maintain healthy vision and enjoy a lifetime of clear sight. Schedule a consultation with one of our experienced eye care professionals to learn more about glaucoma and how to protect your vision for the future.