Who is at risk of glaucoma?

The majority of patients with glaucoma will not experience symptoms in the early stages of the disease. Glaucoma is known as the “silent thief of sight” because it affects side vision before central vision. A loss of peripheral vision is not readily noticeable in day-to-day life.

The only way to know if you have glaucoma is to see your optometrist or ophthalmologist for a full examination. Optometrists have both the skills and equipment to screen for glaucoma, and are usually the first port of call to find out if you may have glaucoma.

Anyone may develop glaucoma, but the incidence increases with age. About 1 in 10,000 babies are born with glaucoma, by age 40 about 1 in 200 have glaucoma, rising to 1 in 8 at age 80.


Are you at risk?

Although anyone may develop glaucoma, some people have a higher risk - they are people who:

  • have a family history of glaucoma
  • have high eye pressure
  • are aged over 50
  • are of African or Asian descent
  • have diabetes
  • are short or long sighted
  • have been on a prolonged course of cortisone (steroid) medication
  • experience migraines
  • have had an eye operation or eye injury
  • who have a history or high or low blood pressure

Abridged: NHMRC Guidelines, 2010


Risk calculator

Glaucoma Australia has developed this risk calculator to help you assess your potential risk of developing glaucoma based on age, gender, ethnicity, family history of glaucoma and other health issues such as diabetes and myopia.  Calculate your risk of developing glaucoma, and find out what to do about it.


Get tested

Glaucoma Australia recommends all Australians 50 years or older visit an optometrist every 2 years for a comprehensive eye exam, and if you have a family history of glaucoma or are of Asian or African descent we recommend you get your eyes checked every 2 years from the age of 40.

If your family member has advanced glaucoma, it is recommended that you attend regular eye health checks commencing 5-10 years earlier than the age of onset in your affected relative. 


Glaucoma in families

In many cases, glaucoma is an inherited (genetic) disease that is passed on within families, and there is an increased risk with direct relatives.

First degree relatives (parents, siblings, children) are at greater risk - having an almost 1 in 4 chance of developing glaucoma in their own lifetime.The risk increases to 56% if the relative has advanced glaucoma.

Early assessment by an optometrist, particularly if you have a family history of glaucoma, is critical in detecting glaucoma and commencing treatment in a timely manner.