Glaucoma begins with brain nerve deterioration
Damaged nerves in the brain are the cause of the eye disease glaucoma, rather than damage to the eye itself as was previously thought. This recent finding was the outcome of research using mice.
Glaucoma affects the eye and leads to blindness - most commonly in elderly people. Scientists previously believed that the condition was caused by pressure in the eye that damaged the retina and optic nerves. Now a study using mice has shown that the earliest signs of glaucoma can be detected in the brain.
A team of scientists researching cases of the disease noticed severe deterioration between the mid brain and optic nerve. This part of the communication pathway is involved in handling sensory information. They followed the path of degeneration and noticed that the last structures to deteriorate were the ones nearest to the eye.
The new finding could lead to improvements in the way glaucoma is treated. In terms of therapy, the team hope the condition will be viewed as other age related neurone disorders, with the possibility of early detection using MRI scans. They are now designing medicines to improve and restore the damaged pathway.