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Glaucoma cured by eye drops?

7th August 2009

Italian research suggests that a new type of eye-drop may reverse the development of glaucoma, a leading cause of blindness worldwide.


The disease is caused by increased pressure inside the eye leading to optic-nerve cell damage.

Glaucoma sufferers often seek help from medical professionals only after their condition is too advanced for treatment to help.

Although the intraocular pressure can be conrolled through various techniques, when it builds up, it begins a process of irreversible damage to a type of nerve cell called retinal ganglion cells (RGCs).

The study, conducted on both rats and humans, found that eye-drops which contained a nerve growth factor were an effective measure to stop cell death within the optic nerve.

Furthermore, the eye-drops may actually improve vision in the estimated 77 million people who have glaucoma around the world.

For the purposes of the recent study, scientists at the University of Rome gave the eye-drops to rats who tested positive for the disease.

The rate of death of RGCs in rats treated with the eye-drops was less than expected.

When the eye drops were administered to humans whose vision was already worsening as a result of RGC death, two out of three patients noticed improvements and one out of three noticed that the deterioration in their vision had stabilised.

The improvements noted by the three patients lasted up to 18 months after the initial application of the eye drops.

The nerve growth factor seems to work by triggering cell changes at a chemical level.

The protected cells can even begin to regenerate, and already healthy RGCs can begin to form connections within the optic nerve in compensation for damage.

It is not within the capability of the nerve growth factor to 'save' dead cells, however, much in the same way that dead brain tissue is unable to grow back.

Lead researcher Stefano Bonini said that the protection of nerve cells in glaucoma had already been attempted with several compounds.

He said that his team's study was the first time that an improvement in visual function had been observed in patients with advanced optic nerve damage.

David Wright, chief executive of the International Glaucoma Association, warned that people should not make any sudden conclusions, despite the positive outcome of the study.

He said that there had already been many false dawns in the search for neuro-protective agents for the treatment of glaucoma.

He said that research into other compounds had shown that early promise did not always translate into clinical effectiveness.

Professor Peng Khaw of the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology said that many other treatments had achieved good results in test animals, but failed to deliver the same benefits in human subjects.

Wright said that the Italian study may mean that the potential to open a completely new method of treating glaucoma in the future exists, if early indications are borne out by wider trials.

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Taylor Johnston

Friday 11th September 2009 @ 22:23

my father has a serious case of glaucoma, and needs help with try anything, please contact me ASAP, he will try this. i need help

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Article Information

Title: Glaucoma cured by eye drops?
Author: Chris May
Article Id: 12385
Date Added: 7th Aug 2009


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