August 11, 2011

Glaucoma: New Study, New Insights

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- By studying a mouse model, researchers have obtained new insights about glaucoma, the second most common cause of blindness in the United States.

Glaucoma refers to a group of eye conditions that leads to damage to the optic nerve. This is the nerve that carries visual information from the eye to the brain. In many cases, damage to the optic nerve is due to increased pressure in the eye, also known as intraocular pressure (IOP).

There are four forms of glaucoma, and primary open angle glaucoma (POAG) is the most common. The most common genetic cause of POAG is a mutation of the MYOC gene. However, researchers have not determined the mechanism underlying mutant MYOC-associated glaucoma.

In this new study, investigators from the University of Iowa in Iowa City conducted an analysis of transgenic mice that develop symptoms that closely resemble those seen in patients with POAG caused by a Y437H mutation in MYOC.

The researchers found symptoms of glaucoma in mice were associated with a cellular process known as ER stress. They showed reducing levels of ER stress reduced symptoms of glaucoma. They say these results could provide a new approach to treating patients with POAG.

SOURCE: The Journal of Clinical Investigation, August, 2011