Why Do Patients With Normal Eye Pressure Go Blind from Glaucoma?

Michael Girard, PhD Singapore Eye Research Institute, Singapore National Eye Centre

Co-Principal Investigators

Aung Tin, MBBS, PhD
Monisha E. Nongpiur, MBBS, PhD


Through this project, we aim to understand why patients with normal pressure in their eyes still go blind; could there be a mechanical explanation, such as the presence of abnormal forces. AIM1. We will assess the robustness of the optic nerve head (the site of damage in glaucoma) in patients with low-pressure glaucoma and in patients with high-pressure glaucoma. We may find 'undiscovered' mechanical features of the eye (e.g. oddly shaped or deforming ocular structures) in those two groups that may explain the development of the disease in either group. These mechanical features will be discovered using AI & engineering tools. AIM2. We will assess whether the features discovered in AIM1 will help predict who will go blind and how fast.

Project Details

Our research is exciting because we will propose engineering and artificial intelligence tools to fully assess and understand the robustness of the optic nerve head (ONH: the main site of damage in glaucoma) in a given patient. Our goal is to establish whether ONH robustness can help us predict who is at risk of developing future glaucoma damage, and if proven, we will be able to provide earlier treatment in the eyes that are deemed mechanically unstable. Once our study is complete, the general public may benefit from an improved understanding of the physics of the eye. In other words, the general public may understand that certain eye shapes (or changes in eye shape with eye pressure or other forces) may predispose an individual to a certain type of glaucoma and the importance of being screened for glaucoma after reaching a certain age. For our research field, a better understanding of the physics of the eye will inevitably open the door to new glaucoma treatments that are in high clinical need.