Glaucoma is the second leading cause of irreversible blindness, affecting approximately 67 million people worldwide including more than 2 million Americans. Glaucoma often affects individuals in the prime of their life with devastating personal debilitation. The primary cause of glaucoma is rising intraocular pressure due to increased outflow resistance that is responsible for permanent optic nerve damage and irreversible vision loss.
In a healthy eye, pressure is regulated by a balance between production and outflow of fluid in the front part of the eye, through a strainer-like drainage system called the trabecular meshwork that fails in glaucoma. Although glaucoma has been recognized for nearly 2400 years, the underlying cause of outflow failure remains unsolved despite many advances in modern medicine. Prior research focused on the dysfunction of strainer tissue that protects the drainage system, but surgical treatment to remove it failed to achieve the needed pressure reduction, and new evidence implicates the drainage vessels themselves.
At the University of Pittsburgh, our research focus is on the reduction of this resistance and to expand and regenerate the outflow system, using new tools developed by our scientists and delivering molecules recently discovered to play an essential role in the developing a more effective outflow system.
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