Risk factors

Anyone can be diagnosed with glaucoma. However, researchers have found several factors that put patients more at risk.

Although younger people can develop glaucoma, the risk greatly increases after age 45.

Someone with a close family history of glaucoma is three to six times more likely to develop the disease, especially those with a family history of pigmentary glaucoma or juvenile glaucoma.

Patients who have a history of diabetes mellitis, vasospasm, or high blood pressure also have a higher risk of developing glaucoma.

Glaucoma is not confined to a specific race. However, glaucoma is the number one cause of blindness in African Americans. Research shows glaucoma has an earlier onset in African Americans by 10 years, and it is more aggressive and more resistant to treatment than in other populations.

African Americans are four times more likely to develop open angle glaucoma than Caucasians, while Asians are more prone to develop angle closure glaucoma. Caucasians are more likely to develop pigmentary glaucoma.

These eye conditions may put you more at risk for developing glaucoma:

  • Asymmetric intraocular pressures
  • An enlargement of the optic nerve head cup
  • Narrowing of the neuroretinal rim
  • Asymmetry of the cup-to-disc ratio
  • Myopia

Treating glaucoma

The most difficult cases of glaucoma may require laser or conventional surgery. For most types of glaucoma, prescription medication is the first line of therapy.

Compare glaucoma medications

Glaucoma resources

The Glaucoma Foundation

The Glaucoma Foundation is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to researching cures for glaucoma and helping people avoid the tragedy of blindness—which can now be prevented in 90 percent of glaucoma cases with early detection.

The Glaucoma Research Foundation

The mission of the Glaucoma Research Foundation (GRF) is to protect the sight and independence of people with glaucoma through research and education, with the ultimate goal of curing glaucoma. The GRF provides information and resources on glaucoma research programs and glaucoma-related issues.


Gleams is a newsletter with information about glaucoma published quarterly by the Glaucoma Research Foundation. Gleams is available in print, on the Gleams website, and in audio for those qualified to research “free matter for the blind.”

The BrightFocus Foundation

BrightFocus supports research to end “diseases of mind and sight.” Since the National Glaucoma Research program began in 1978, BrightFocus has awarded nearly $31 million to support research projects on the causes and potential prevention and treatment of glaucoma.

Early detection is the best defense against glaucoma.

Make an appointment