The risk of glaucoma varies with race and age. The condition is more common in blacks and Hispanics than in whites, and it occurs more frequently with increasing age. In one study, the prevalence of glaucoma was about 1 percent in people ages 40 to 49; in those over age 70, it reached 10 percent in whites and 20 percent in blacks. Heredity may play a role in glaucoma risk; mutations causing glaucoma have been identified.
Inhaled corticosteroids--commonly used to treat asthma--and nasal sprays containing corticosteroids appear to raise the risk of elevated intraocular pressure (IOP) and open-angle glaucoma, possibly by inhibiting the drainage of aqueous humor. Oral corticosteroids may have the same effect. People who must use corticosteroids should have their IOP and vision monitored regularly.
In some people, even a normal level of IOP is sufficient to contribute to optic nerve damage. These individuals may have thinner-than-normal corneas that make IOP measurements appear to be lower than they actually are. The American Academy of Ophthalmology now recommends that people with other risk factors for glaucoma have their corneal thickness measured.