Glaucoma research focuses on one of the leading causes of blindness.
Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of visual disability, affecting almost three million individuals in the United States and more than 60 million individuals worldwide. Unfortunately, only half of them are aware that they have it. Every year, almost 80,000 Americans go blind from glaucoma.
New glaucoma insights
Glaucoma has traditionally been thought to be a disease of the optic nerve head or ‘disc.’ More recently, however, glaucoma has been recognized to be a degenerative disease of the retina, in particular, the retinal ganglion cells, with some involvement of associated cells in the retina.
- If glaucoma is not caught in time, it can result in progressive constriction of the visual field or ‘side vision,’ and ultimately loss of all vision.
- In many cases, the internal eye pressure is abnormally high, but it is also possible to develop glaucoma with normal eye pressure.
- Some glaucoma research focuses on how and why the drainage system of the eye fails to work properly in people with glaucoma.
- Other studies investigate the retinal ganglion cells and associated cells to see what makes them die and what helps them survive.
- In addition, glaucoma research explores methods of prevention, early detection and treatment of glaucoma conditions, including new glaucoma drug and surgical treatments.
Glaucoma research is related to neuro-ophthalmology research in that both involve the optic nerve or disc and the visual field. However, neuro-ophthalmology research focuses on disease processes affecting any part of the visual system, from eye to brain. Glaucoma research focuses on the retina, optic disc and drainage pathways.
Glaucoma drug research
Thus far, lowering the pressure inside the eye is the only proven effective treatment for glaucoma. Our recent and ongoing studies focus primarily on glaucoma drug research, including those that compare different dosages of glaucoma drugs or which test the efficacy and safety of these medications. We were a major contributor to one important recent glaucoma clinical trial, the Ocular Hypertension Treatment Study (OHTS), which focused on the safety and efficacy of pressure-lowering eye drops in delaying or preventing the onset of the most common type of glaucoma, primary open-angle glaucoma. Although the OHTS study has been completed, it has sparked other ancillary studies in which we are participating.
Glaucoma Self-Management Research
Approximately half of glaucoma patients do not take their medication as prescribed. There are many reasons, including the fact that vision loss with glaucoma isn’t noticeable for a long time. Often patients don’t realize the benefits of their eye drop medication until it’s too late. The Support Educate Empower (SEE) Personalized Glaucoma Coaching Program combines personalized support from a trained glaucoma coach with personalized education and reminders to try to better support people in taking control of their glaucoma by taking their eye drops on time every day. Henry Ford is currently participating in this important clinical trial to evaluate the SEE Program compared to standard education.
Advanced treatment for glaucoma
Henry Ford glaucoma specialists have extensive experience in glaucoma treatment, including complex and rare types such as acute angle-closure glaucoma, neovascular glaucoma and childhood glaucomas. In addition, our team works closely with Henry Ford Medical Group physicians in other departments, providing multidisciplinary, coordinated care for those patients who need it. Our patients have access to advanced diagnostic tests and treatment and, if eligible, related clinical trials.