Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Glaucoma as neurologic disorder rather than eye disease?

Date:
March 7, 2012
Source:
American Academy of Ophthalmology
Summary:
A new paradigm to explain glaucoma is generating brain-based treatment advances. A review article says that some top researchers no longer consider glaucoma solely an eye disease, but rather a neurologic disorder with some similarities to Parkinson disease and Alzheimer's.

A new paradigm to explain glaucoma is rapidly emerging, and it is generating brain-based treatment advances that may ultimately vanquish the disease known as the "sneak thief of sight." A review now available in Ophthalmology, the journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, reports that some top researchers no longer think of glaucoma solely as an eye disease. Instead, they view it as a neurologic disorder that causes nerve cells in the brain to degenerate and die, similar to what occurs in Parkinson disease and in Alzheimer's. The review, led by Jeffrey L Goldberg, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of ophthalmology at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute and Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute, describes treatment advances that are either being tested in patients or are scheduled to begin clinical trials soon.

Glaucoma is the most common cause of irreversible blindness worldwide. For many years, the prevailing theory was that vision damage in glaucoma patients was caused by abnormally high pressure inside the eye, known as intraocular pressure (IOP). As a result, lowering IOP was the only goal of those who developed surgical techniques and medications to treat glaucoma. Creating tests and instruments to measure and track IOP was crucial to that effort. Today, a patient's IOP is no longer the only measurement an ophthalmologist uses to diagnose glaucoma, although it is still a key part of deciding how to care for the patient. IOP-lowering medications and surgical techniques continue to be effective ways to protect glaucoma patients' eyes and vision. Tracking changes in IOP over time informs the doctor whether the treatment plan is working.

But even when surgery or medication successfully lowers IOP, vision loss continues in some glaucoma patients. Also, some patients find it difficult to use eye drop medications as prescribed by their physicians. These significant shortcomings spurred researchers to look beyond IOP as a cause of glaucoma and focus of treatment.

The new research paradigm focuses on the damage that occurs in a type of nerve cell called retinal ganglion cells (RGCs), which are vital to the ability to see. These cells connect the eye to the brain through the optic nerve.

RGC-targeted glaucoma treatments now in clinical trials include: medications injected into the eye that deliver survival and growth factors to RGCs; medications known to be useful for stroke and Alzheimer's, such as cytidine-5-diphosphocholine; and electrical stimulation of RGCs, delivered via tiny electrodes implanted in contact lenses or other external devices. Human trials of stem cell therapies are in the planning stages.

"As researchers turn their attention to the mechanisms that cause retinal ganglion cells to degenerate and die, they are discovering ways to protect, enhance and even regenerate these vital cells," said Dr. Goldberg. "Understanding how to prevent damage and improve healthy function in these neurons may ultimately lead to sight-saving treatments for glaucoma and other degenerative eye diseases."

If this neurologically-based research succeeds, future glaucoma treatments may not only prevent glaucoma from stealing patients' eyesight, but may actually restore vision. Scientists also hope that their in-depth exploration of RGCs will help them determine what factors, such as genetics, make some people more vulnerable to glaucoma.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Academy of Ophthalmology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Elma E. Chang, Jeffrey L. Goldberg. Glaucoma 2.0: Neuroprotection, Neuroregeneration, Neuroenhancement. Ophthalmology, 2012; DOI: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2011.11.003

Cite This Page:

American Academy of Ophthalmology. "Glaucoma as neurologic disorder rather than eye disease?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 March 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120307094659.htm>.
American Academy of Ophthalmology. (2012, March 7). Glaucoma as neurologic disorder rather than eye disease?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120307094659.htm
American Academy of Ophthalmology. "Glaucoma as neurologic disorder rather than eye disease?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120307094659.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

AFP (July 24, 2014) A so-called drugs rehab 'clinic' is closed down in Pakistan after police find scores of ‘patients’ chained up alleging serial abuse. Duration 03:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Too Few Teens Receiving HPV Vaccination, CDC Says

Too Few Teens Receiving HPV Vaccination, CDC Says

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is blaming doctors for the low number of children being vaccinated for HPV. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Newsy (July 24, 2014) Sheik Umar Khan has treated many of the people infected in the Ebola outbreak, and now he's become one of them. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins