Glaucoma and Senior Citizens: Some Genetic Considerations

Jun 28th, 2010 | By Sharon Shaw Elrod MSW EdD | Category: Lifestyle, Health & Fitness

In the 1990s, Johns Hopkins University and other medical centers conducted some studies and discovered there were genetic considerations in the search for the cause of glaucoma among senior citizens.  That research showed a correlation between glaucoma in a senior and siblings, children and parents also having glaucoma.  Obviously nothing causative here.  But definitely a correlation.  The difference is that, having a close relative who is diagnosed with glaucoma does not cause you to develop glaucoma.  It just means that if you have a close relative(s) with glaucoma, you are at higher risk for developing it yourself.  Four times higher risk was found.

So what does it mean if you develop glaucoma and have no close relatives also diagnosed?  Human genome studies provide some insight for the answer to this question.  A human gene (sFRP1) has been found to increase interocular pressure (IOP) when it is overactive.  When it is overactive (overexpressed), the incidence of glaucoma increases significantly.  This study is being followed closely, is being expanded, other genes are being studied, and results will be provided when they are available.  Those seniors with glaucoma will be very interested in the results.

Johns Hopkins University says :  “In the future, researchers are likely to uncover more genes and genetic mutations associated with glaucoma, develop tests to identify them, and develop new treatments based on those findings. For now, however, the best way to screen for glaucoma is to get a complete dilated eye exam on a regular basis. And if glaucoma is detected, the best advice is to take your IOP-lowering medication as directed.”

The SCJ Editor writing this article has glaucoma… pigmentary dispersion glaucoma, which is a little unusual.  SCJ highly recommends annual eye examinations by a competent and trusted opthamalogist, and following the advice of that medical professional.  Glaucoma, or any other eye disease, must be treated immediately to avoid compromising your eyesight.



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