Glaucoma as a Neurological Disorder

Jeffrey L. Goldberg, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of ophthalmology at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute and Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute has posited a new theory about glaucoma that may help researchers better understand this incurable eye disease. In a review published in Ophthalmology, Dr. Goldberg discusses new clinical trials that look at and treat glaucoma as a neurological disorder similar to Alzheimer’s, a theory that is based on the fact that this eye disease is a result of damage to the optic nerve.

The new research focuses on retinal ganglion cells which connect the eyes to the brain via the optic nerve. These cells are essential for proper vision, but have not been the focus of previous research or treatments for glaucoma. Using medications similar to those for other neurological disorders, the researchers hope to not only find a treatment for glaucoma, but a cure as well.

Glaucoma Risk Factors

Glaucoma can be asymptomatic until it is too late, making it important to know the risk factors and take proper precautions such as frequent eye exams. Some of the risk factors for glaucoma include:

  • Being over the age of 60
  • Being of African or Hispanic descent
  • Use of steroid medications
  • Having high blood pressure
  • Having a family history of the disease

Even if you are not at a higher risk for glaucoma, seeing your ophthalmologist every year after the age of 60 remains the most effective way to prevent complete vision loss due to various eye diseases and conditions.

Please use our directory to find an ophthalmologist in your area to schedule a glaucoma screening today.