Objective: Primary open angle glaucoma has been previously associated with a positive family history of glaucoma. We used data from the Baltimore Eye Survey to examine this association.
Design: A population-based prevalence survey identified 161 cases of primary open angle glaucoma among 5308 black and white residents of east Baltimore, Md, who were 40 years of age or older. Family history was ascertained by interview and included all first-degree relatives (parents, siblings, and children).
Results: Age-adjusted associations of primary open angle glaucoma with a history of glaucoma were higher in siblings (odds ratio [OR] = 3.69) than in parents (OR = 2.17) or children (OR = 1.12). Odds ratios were slightly higher in blacks than in whites, and there was evidence of selection bias, with ORs between two and three times higher for those who had prior knowledge of their glaucoma diagnosis than for those who first received their diagnosis by the study examination (history in siblings OR = 4.72 for those with prior knowledge vs 2.77 for those without).
Conclusion: Family history is an important risk factor for primary open angle glaucoma, although clinic-based studies are likely to overstate its impact.