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Research to Prevent Blindness

Glaucoma

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Glaucoma refers to a group of diseases -- open-angle glaucoma, angle-closure glaucoma, low-tension or normal-tension glaucoma, congenital glaucoma, and secondary glaucoma -- where cells and fibers of the optic nerve are damaged, affecting the transmission of signals from the eye to the brain. It is usually progressive. At first there are no detectable symptoms but, eventually, vision narrows. Glaucoma can lead to blindness, but seldom does when diagnosed and treated early. 

View a video presentation on glaucoma from the National Eye Institute.

The eye is filled with nutrient-rich fluid, called aqueous humor. Normal intraocular pressure (IOP) is maintained through a balance between the fluid produced inside the eye and the amount drained. In glaucoma, excess fluid typically builds up because of a blockage of the drainage channels or filtering tissue called the trabecular meshwork. Researchers are developing treatments to help maintain the capacity of these drainage tissues.

Until recently, physicians and scientists believed that damage from glaucoma was solely due to increased intraocular pressure (IOP).  Medications and conventional or laser surgeries are typically prescribed to reduce the fluid build-up. Now, though, we know that high IOP does not always cause glaucoma and that glaucoma can even occur when IOP is normal.  Research supported by RPB shows that thickness of a patient's cornea may also be related to glaucoma onset.

Glaucoma poses an enormous public health problem. The government estimates that 2.2 million Americans have been diagnosed with glaucoma. Experts believe that nearly 2 million more may have the disease and not know it.

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Related News: Glaucoma

Researchers Identify Biomarker for Glaucoma Damage

The RPB-supported researchers hope their finding will lead to tests to identify cell damage before irreversible vision loss.

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A Career Retooled

Dr. David Beebe's studies of the vitreous body - the gel that fills the eye - are aimed at identifying the mechanism responsible for age-related nuclear cataracts and open angle glaucoma.

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Research Finds Risk of Glaucoma Blindness Drops by Half

Compared to earlier generations, today's generation has a 50% reduced probability of losing sight to glaucoma 20 years after a diagnosis, according to research supported by RPB.Read the story.Read the...

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RPB Study Urges Glaucoma Screening for Older African Americans

Routine screening of older African Americans for glaucoma -- a high-risk group -- would significantly reduce the incidence of blindness at relatively low cost, RPB researchers report in a recently published...

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“Smart” Contacts May Someday Test for and Treat Glaucoma

Scientists have designed and tested a pressure-sensing contact lens that will, in the future, allow glaucoma patients to monitor their eye pressure at home, providing more detailed and continuous information in...

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Thyroid Problems May Increase Glaucoma Risk

According to an RPB-supported study, people who have had a thyroid condition at some point in their life are at an increased risk of developing glaucoma. The link between glaucoma and thyroid disorders may be due to...

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