Translational Eye Research

Glaucoma is a progressive sight-threatening neurodegenerative disease and the most common cause of irreversible blindness that typically remains silent until very severe. Glaucoma is defined as a progressive optic neuropathy characterized by the loss of the retinal optic nerve cells (the retinal ganglion cells (RGCs)). RGCs transfer nervous signals from the retina to the visual centers in the brain through the optic nerve.

Hence, glaucomatous degeneration affects image perception leading to defects in the visual field and eventual blindness. The major risk factors for developing glaucoma are, in addition to age, elevated intraocular pressure (IOP) and family history. In this context, IOP is the only current treatable risk factor to slow the rate of glaucomatous neurodegeneration. Yet, one third of glaucoma patients present a normal IOP. Thus, focus has shifted to other concomitant risks factors involved in glaucomatous degeneration such as excitotoxicity -regulated in part by Müller glia-, altered blood flow, mitochondrial dysfunction, oxidative stress, and inflammation.