Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Better Understanding of How Glaucoma Begins

Researchers are making progress toward understanding how some cases of glaucoma begin. A new study from the National Eye Institute reveals that myocilin—a protein linked to a significant fraction of glaucoma—is needed to insulate peripheral nerves. The researchers theorize that myocilin could perform a similar function in the eye. That’s the word from a NEI press release. (Picture on the left: These are slices of mouse peripheral nerve. Left: In a normal mouse, a structural protein in myelin [red] surrounds nerve fibers (green). Right: When myocilin is missing, myelin proteins disappear, too. Credit: Kwon et al. Journal of Biological Chemistry.) Genes play a role in glaucoma. Mutations in the myocilin gene have been found in up to four percent of people with adult-onset glaucoma and 10 percent with juvenile-onset glaucoma. Researchers have long believed that myocilin helps maintain normal eye pressure. It's found at high levels within a sponge-like drainage system that regulates pressure inside the eye. But mice lacking the myocilin gene seem to have a normal drainage system, raising the possibility that the gene might be needed elsewhere. Read more.

Meanwhile, “researchers in Taiwan have discovered that people with sleep apnea are far more likely to develop glaucoma compared to those without the sleep condition,” notes Medical News Today. “The results of this study, which is the first to calculate the risk of the disease among people with the sleep disorder following diagnosis, is published in this month's edition of Ophthalmology.” Read more.

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