Eye changes associated with glaucoma contribute to tiny blind spots, known as “visual field defects,” which, if they worsen, might advance to vision loss and blindness. The chance of that, and the speed at which it happens, vary greatly from person to person.
Early diagnosis is key, and much progress has been made in imaging the eye to detect the tiniest changes that may precede glaucoma.
Through BrightFocus’ National Glaucoma Research program, grantees are using new technologies to study the health of individual retinal ganglion cells of the eye and their nerve fibers. Known as RGCs, these cells are critical to sight because they carry light signals to the brain allowing one to see. New technologies are needed because RGCs are nearly transparent and very difficult to image currently.
Scientists are exploring the connection between cells to detect synapse changes. To do this, they are observing and measuring the energy regulation in individual RGCs.
The contribution of cerebrospinal fluid and other factors are also being explored to further expand our knowledge of the eye-brain connection. This exploration may lead to earlier detection and new and improved ways to treat glaucoma.
Explore More of Our 360° Research Approach
- New Knowledge About What Causes Glaucoma
- New Ways to Predict Progression and Treat Glaucoma
- Controlling Eye Pressure in New Ways
- Protecting and Regenerating the Optic Nerve
New Knowledge About What Causes Glaucoma
Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases united under one name. Ultimately, glaucoma threatens sight by damaging the optic nerve, at the back of the eye which carries light signals from the eye to the brain. However, our knowledge of how and when glaucoma damages nerve cells remains imprecise.
New Ways to Predict Progression and Treat Glaucoma
Currently approved treatments for glaucoma primarily focus on eye pressure. Numerous therapies exist to lower eye pressure effectively; however, the bulk of them (eyedrops and surgeries) require skill and consistency to achieve results.
Easier methods are needed, as well as new therapies to address other underlying causes of glaucoma besides intraocular pressure (IOP).
Controlling Eye Pressure in New Ways
Elevated eye pressure, or intraocular pressure (IOP), is present in most forms of glaucoma. This can happen when the fluid that constantly bathes the front of the eye, called aqueous humor, gets clogged and backed up.
Protecting and Regenerating the Optic Nerve
Unlike most cells in the body, which repair themselves, the nerve cells providing our vision do not regrow once damaged.
BrightFocus is supporting research into ways of protecting cells threatened by advancing glaucoma as well as regenerating those cells after vision loss.