Imaging and Exploring the Eye-Brain Connection

A woman's face with scientific imagery superimposed over her left eye.


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.