Although certain groups are at higher risk than others for glaucoma, everyone, at any age, is at risk. It is estimated that up to 50 percent of people with glaucoma don't realize they have it. And while there are effective treatments, there is no cure.

One key way to help prevent vision loss from glaucoma is through regular eye examinations. Early diagnosis and treatment is critical to preserving sight. In addition, if you or someone else in your family has glaucoma, it is important to talk with other family members and encourage them to get their eyes checked to make sure they don’t lose vision. Because once they do, they can’t get it back.

"One of the most important things you can do is to talk about glaucoma with your family and encourage them to take steps toward preserving their vision."

The importance of heredity

Genetic studies have suggested that more than 50 percent of glaucoma is familial. The rate of glaucoma can be 10 times higher among individuals with a sibling who has glaucoma. It’s likely that 15 percent of glaucoma patients have at least one sibling who has glaucoma; that individual may be totally unaware of the disease. However, any blood relative is at increased risk.

One of the most important things you can do is to talk about glaucoma with your family and encourage them to take steps toward preserving their vision.

Including family members

When you share your health information with family members, letting them know you have glaucoma and that they may be at risk, you are potentially giving them the gift of sight. Family gatherings are a good opportunity, not only to spread the word but also to get valuable family health history information when multiple family members are present and can contribute to the family knowledge.

National recognition

During World Glaucoma Week 2018 (March 11-17), make the commitment to get a complete eye exam, including eye dilation, reach out to your family members and encourage them to get screened. With increased awareness of glaucoma, early diagnosis and intervention can help prevent vision loss.