Glaucoma is a group of diseases which lead to damage of your optic nerve. This leads to vision loss, and untreated will eventually lead to blindness.

Recently, glaucoma research has revealed a number of genetic risk factors which can lead to glaucoma. While not every glaucoma case is caused by genetics, these risk factors can help identify you and may help save your vision.

Risk Factors

A risk factor is something that doesn?t always lead to a condition but increases the risk of having that condition, like smoking cigarettes is to lung cancer. For glaucoma, a number of changes in DNA sequences near or in genes, loss of DNA and other genetic issues have been identified as risk factors in the past few years.

If a blood relative has developed glaucoma, there is a chance they may carry a genetic risk factor and you may as well. Genetic testing can be done to determine if you carry a risk factor, but setting up regular eye exams is best because glaucoma can form even without a genetic risk factor.

Types Of Glaucoma

Primary Congenital Glaucoma (PCG)

Glaucoma is not only a disease for adults and the elderly. PCG is just the most common form of childhood glaucoma, though there are others. PCG affects children from birth to age 3, and without proper identification or treatment leads to blindness.

For PCG, the main genetic risk factor is a mutation in the CYP1B1 gene.

For other childhood glaucomas which aren?t PCG, genetic risk factors include: PITX2; PITX3; FOXC1; FOXE3; PAX6; LMX1B; and, MAF.

Primary Angle-Closure Glaucoma (PACG)

PACG is the second most common form of glaucoma, affecting 16 million people worldwide.

For PACG, the main genetic risk factors are: PLEKHA7; PCMTD1/ST18; and, COL11A1.

Exfoliation Glaucoma/Pseudoexfoliation Glaucoma (XFG)

XFG affects millions of people across the world, and results from exfoliation syndrome which is a condition characterized by the deposit of white protein-like material on the lens and in the drainage system of the eye.

For XFG, the main genetic risk factors include: LOXL1; and, CNTNAP2.

Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma (POAG)

POAG is the most common type of glaucoma, and has no obvious physical cause.

POAG?s main genetic risk factors are: CAV1; CAV2; CDKN2B antisense RNA; TMCO1; SIX1; SIX6; LRP12; ZFPM2; TBK1; and, GALC.

Schedule An Eye Exam

The most important habit you can do to protect yourself from glaucoma is to make sure you?re getting a regular eye exam. Whether you think you have an eye issue or not, a regular eye exam can help discover problems before they get out of control, and help you correct them early on.