National Glaucoma Research Report: Fall 2020

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National Glaucoma Research Report: Fall 2020

In This Issue...

FDA Approves First Long-Term Implant for Glaucoma

New Glaucoma Treatment is Showing Great Promise

In exciting news for glaucoma patients who dislike or have difficulty with eyedrops, the FDA has approved Durysta™, a new long-term, biodegradable eye implant that helps regulate eye pressure in people with ocular hypertension or open-angle glaucoma.

A doctor can implant 10 micrograms of bimatoprost, prostaglandin analog (a common class of glaucoma medication) directly into the anterior chamber of the eye with a single-use applicator. The implant will release the drug over a period of 12 weeks.

In clinical studies, this treatment lowered intraocular pressure by 30% over three months. Over 80% of patients no longer needed other treatments, like medicated eyedrops. The non-compliance for the use of glaucoma eye drops is as high as 80% among glaucoma patients, according to Allergan, the company that developed Durysta, so this could potentially become an alternative to daily medications.

“FDA approval marks a breakthrough milestone for the glaucoma community and provides a much-needed option for patients challenged with topical drops or needing alternative options,” said David Nicholson, Allergan’s chief R&D officer.

National Glaucoma Research funded early studies by Dr. Shahid Hussain on prostaglandin analogs that increased the understanding of how this class of drugs works.

President’s Corner

Thank you for supporting National Glaucoma Research at a time when your help has never been more important. Because of you, the researchers who are at the forefront of scientific discovery can push the frontier of glaucoma knowledge to new and exciting places while changing lives. This issue of National Glaucoma Research Report discusses new advances in treatment, the risks and benefits of glaucoma surgery, and spotlights Haiyan Gong, MD, PhD, a National Glaucoma Research-funded researcher whose work brings us new insights to develop better ways to treat this sight stealing disease. We are committed to funding the most promising research studies. But it is only because of the support we receive from you and other dedicated friends that we can continue to improve the lives of people with glaucoma. Thank you for your partnership in the fight to cure glaucoma.

Stacy Pagos Haller

The Benefits and Risks of Glaucoma Surgery

As with any operation, there are risks associated with glaucoma surgery. But for many people with advanced cases of glaucoma, the benefits of surgery outweigh the risks. Here are some of the risks and benefits you can discuss with your ophthalmologist.

  • Vision Loss: In the short term after an operation, vision is temporarily disrupted. In very rare instances, permanent vision can be reduced or lost.
  • Bleeding in the Eye: Patients with very low eye pressure may experience this uncommon, but serious, complication. Talk with your ophthalmologist if you are on blood thinners.
  • Infection: On very rare occasions, an infection inside of the eye can occur, even months or years after surgery. If you have signs of infection, call your ophthalmologist immediately. Caught early, most cases can be treated with antibiotic drops.
  • Scarring: As the eye naturally heals or develops scars from the surgery, eye pressure can become higher than intended. This can require restarting glaucoma medication, or are peat surgery.
    While it is important to understand the risks discussed above, it is also important to recognize that the vast majority of glaucoma surgeries are successful at slowing the progression of glaucoma and achieving the intended eye pressure. Your ophthalmologist will help you explore your options when the time is right.​

SPOTLIGHT ON ... Haiyan Gong, MD, PhD

Decreasing Intraocular Pressure


Haiyan Gong, MD, PhD

A primary risk factor of glaucoma is abnormally increased pressure inside the eye. Th is is usually due to inadequate drainage of the aqueous humor, the clear fluid that fills the space in front of the eyeball between the lens and cornea. Currently, the only way to treat glaucoma is to lower this eye pressure.

Haiyan Gong, MD, PhD, is a professor of Ophthalmology, Anatomy, and Neurobiology at Boston University School of Medicine. Current funding from National Glaucoma Research is supporting Dr. Gong’s research on how pressure in the eye is regulated, with a recent focus on the role of the protein thrombospondin-1 (TSP1). TSP1 affects how well the eye can drain its aqueous humor. Removal of this protein can result in lower eye pressure in a person diagnosed with glaucoma. Dr. Gong’s ongoing research will determine if TSP1 deficiency could prevent or reduce steroid-induced eye pressure.

Save Your Sight From Glaucoma

Knowing the risk factors for developing glaucoma can help prevent this devastating disease from stealing your vision.


  • High eye pressure
  • Thin cornea
  • Family history of glaucoma
  • Suspicious optic nerve appearance
  • Being older than age 40 for African Americans or older than age 60 for the general population


  • Severe Nearsightedness
  • Diabetes
  • Eye surgery or injury
  • High blood pressure
  • Use of corticosteroids
  • Farsightedness
  • Eye surgery or injury
  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • Low eye pressure

Early diagnosis and treatment are key to saving your sight from glaucoma.

Southwestern Frittata

The Italian version of an omelet, this frittata is made with egg whites instead of whole eggs to reduce calories, fat, and cholesterol.

1/2 green or red bell pepper, diced
4 fresh mushrooms, sliced (about 1/2 cup)
6 egg whites
1/2 cup salsa, plus 2 tablespoons for garnish
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1.Heat your broiler and place the rack four inches from the heat source.
2.Coat an ovenproof skillet with cooking spray. Add peppers and mushrooms, then sauté over medium heat until tender.
3.In a separate bowl, whisk egg whites together with a 1/2 cup of the salsa.
4.Pour into the skillet with the vegetables and cook until partially set. About five minutes. Don’t blend or scramble. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese.5.Place the skillet under the broiler and cook until cheese melts and eggs set, about five minutes.6.Split the frittata into two portions, garnish with salsa, and serve.
Makes 2 servings.

Philanthropic Use of Your IRA

Did you know that you are able to make a gift from your IRA without having to pay taxes on that gift? You can do this on an annual basis, up to $100,000. You can also assign National Glaucoma Research as a beneficiary of your IRA. Either way or with both, you will create a lasting legacy to help further our mission and fight glaucoma.
If you have already designated us as a beneficiary of your IRA, please let us know. Contact Charlie Thomas at 301-556-9362 or so we can thank you for your foresight, welcome you into our Heritage Society, and ensure that your gift is used as you intend. For more information regarding all the ways you can leave a legacy of support, go to

How to Choose the Best Ophthalmologist for Glaucoma Surgery

Choosing the best ophthalmologist for glaucoma surgery can feel daunting. Here are the steps Yvonne Ou, MD, would take in order to identify a surgeon for herself or a family member.

1. Find a glaucoma fellowship-trained ophthalmologist
Ophthalmologists with fellowship training have completed an intensive year of training focusing on glaucoma clinical care and surgery under the supervision of glaucoma specialists.

2. Is the ophthalmologist certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology(ABO)?
This involves passing both a written and oral examination. I would recommend identifying an ophthalmologist who is board-certified by searching for them on the ABO website.

3. Obtain word-of-mouth referrals
This can include the ophthalmologist or optometrist who might be referring you or asking your primary care physician.

4. Determine the experience of the surgeon
When meeting with your surgeon, be sure to ask them what their experience is with the particular surgery they are recommending. Evaluate how carefully they explain why they recommend that surgery for you. Ask about the risks and benefits and consider how well they listen to your needs and preferences. It is important that both of you are on the same page.

5. Seek a second opinion
Consider seeking a second opinion, but do not be surprised if the opinion is different. Because there are more surgical options for treating glaucoma now, different surgeons may have different preferences for surgeries. A second opinion can help you verify whether the surgery recommended by one ophthalmologist is a reasonable option, even if the second recommends a different one.

For other tips and resources to help individuals living with glaucoma, visit

Thank you for supporting National Glaucoma Research!

Please share this newsletter with someone who might be interested in learning more about some of the latest advancements in research to diagnose, prevent, treat, and cure glaucoma. This newsletter is published by National Glaucoma Research, a program of BrightFocus Foundation®, a nonprofit organization located at 22512 Gateway Center Drive, Clarksburg, Maryland 20871, 301-948-3244,

The information in the National Glaucoma Research Report is provided as a public service and should not in any way substitute for the advice of a qualified health care professional, nor is it intended to constitute medical advice. BrightFocus Foundation does not endorse any medical product or therapy. Copies of this newsletter are available upon request.