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Sun Aug 12, 2018, 10:55 PM

MIT research points to autoimmune disease as the cause of glaucoma

MIT research points to autoimmune disease as the cause of glaucoma
Rich Haridy
2 hours ago

An exciting breakthrough from a team of researchers MIT and Massachusetts Eye and Ear has revealed a new hypothesis behind the cause of glaucoma, a common degenerative eye disease with curiously unexplained origins. The study found an unusually high number of T-cells present in the retinas of those suffering from the disease, suggesting the condition may have a previously undetected autoimmune cause.

Until now, scientists thought the primary cause of glaucoma was an increased pressure in the eye. This high eye pressure has been thought to result in a slow damage to the optic nerve, sometimes eventually leading to blindness. While measuring fluid pressure in the eye is still the best way to identify those at risk of developing glaucoma, it has frustratingly not answered all the questions surrounding the disease.

A number of people can be found to have the disease without any signs of elevated eye pressure, and conversely, some can have elevated eye pressure for years without any corresponding eye damage. Continued eye degradation has also been seen in many patients after eye pressure has been surgically reduced.

"That led us to the thought that this pressure change must be triggering something progressive, and the first thing that came to mind is that it has to be an immune response," explains Dong Feng Chen, senior author on the new research.


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