My Relative has Glaucoma


My relative has glaucoma, what does this mean for me?

Those with a direct relative (child, sibling, or parent) with glaucoma have a much higher risk of developing glaucoma – 1 in 4 may develop glaucoma in their life time. This is because in many cases, glaucoma is an inherited (genetic) disease that is passed on within families. Regular eye examinations for this group should commence at least 10 years earlier than the age of onset of glaucoma in their affected relative. Early detection of glaucoma means preventing vision loss.

In the general population, 2-3% of people will develop glaucoma in their lifetime. Onset is usually subtle – someone may only become aware that their vision is worsening after a considerable amount of vision has already been lost. This makes an eye examination especially important in detecting early disease. Early detection of glaucoma is extremely important – treatment can’t restore lost vision, but it can halt or slow further vision loss.

Some people have a higher risk, particularly those who:

  1. have a family history of glaucoma
  2. are over the age of 40
  3. have diabetes or migraines
  4. are short or long sighted
  5. take cortisone drugs (steroids)
  6. have had eye surgery or an eye injury

Research shows that you have an increased risk if you have a family member with glaucoma  – to learn more read the articles below.



Those with a direct relative with glaucoma should:


Common misconceptions

  • Myth: Once you have had your eyes checked, even if you have family members who have been diagnosed, you will not develop glaucoma
    FALSE: It is important to have regular eye checks (every 2-3 years) that include an optic nerve check.

  • Myth: I have already been diagnosed with glaucoma, and the damage is irreversible so there is no point in taking my eye drops
    FALSE: Although glaucoma is a life-long, often progressive condition and optic nerve damage from glaucoma is irreversible, further damage can be slowed or even halted with proper treatment.

  • Myth: Glaucoma only affects the elderly, you only need eye checks after age 60
    FALSE: Although the risk of developing glaucoma increases with age, glaucoma can affect anyone at any age. Even infants can be affected by glaucoma.

  • Myth: “I have perfect vision (or even good vision), I can’t possibly have glaucoma”
    FALSE: In most cases, glaucoma affects the peripheral vision first and may go unnoticed. Your central vision may not be affected at all until later stages, when the damage is very severe and loss of vision has already occurred.

  • Myth: No one in my family has ever had glaucoma, so I am safe and do not need to have an optic nerve check
    FALSE: Although people who have family members with glaucoma have a higher risk of developing glaucoma themselves, everyone is still at risk.


Find an eye health professional

If you have a family member with glaucoma, it is important you visit an eye health professional to have an optic nerve check.



Glaucoma Australia has been educating Australians about glaucoma for almost 30 years – our Mission is to Eliminate Glaucoma Blindness. Help us to help your family.