Glaucoma is caused by the degeneration and death of cells
Glaucoma is not just an eye disease. A published review Ophthalmology, the journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, explains that for some of the best researchers, glaucoma is a neurological disorder that causes nerve cells in the brain to degenerate and die, in a way similar to how it occurs in Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease.
Glaucoma is the most common cause of blindness in the world, and has long been associated with abnormally high intraocular pressure (IOP).
Until now, IOP reduction was the sole objective of surgical techniques and drugs to treat glaucoma. But even when surgery or medication lowered IOP, vision loss continued in some glaucoma patients.
The new research paradigm focuses on the damage that occurs in a type of nerve cells called ganglion cells of the retina (CGR), which are vital for vision. These cells connect the eye to the brain through the optic nerve.
Understanding how to prevent damage and improve the function of these neurons can lead to treatments for glaucoma and other degenerative eye diseases.
Chang EE and Goldberg JL, Ophthalmology (2012). On-line.