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Glaucoma More Common Among Siblings of Patients

Siblings have a 20% risk of developing glaucoma by age 70

THURSDAY, Dec. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Brothers and sisters of patients with glaucoma are significantly more likely to develop the condition themselves, according to a study published in the January issue of the British Journal of Ophthalmology.

Stephen A. Vernon, D.M., F.R.C.Ophth, of Queen's Medical Centre University Hospital NHS Trust in Nottingham, U.K., and colleagues studied 271 siblings of 156 glaucoma patients between 1994 and 2003 to assess the prevalence and cumulative incidence of open angle glaucoma.

At the initial study, the researchers found that 32 (11.8%) of the siblings had definite glaucoma and that another 15 (5.5%) had suspected glaucoma. In the follow-up study of the normal siblings, they found that an additional 11 (7%) had definite glaucoma and that another 30 (19.1%) had suspected glaucoma. They calculated that siblings of glaucoma patients have a 20% lifetime risk of developing the condition by age 70, which is at least four times the risk of the general population of the same age.

"We therefore suggest that formal screening resources should be targeted at this high-risk group, and that a screening program should actively recall siblings every two years even if the initial screening results are negative," the authors conclude.

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