Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness and the reality is that everyone is at risk. The sad truth is that there is no known cure for glaucoma and the vision loss it causes is permanent. While it is more prevalent in older adults, 1 in 10,000 babies in the U.S. are born with glaucoma. In most cases, it doesn’t have any symptoms in its early stages, so there is virtually no warning until the condition is advanced and vision loss is significant.
Until recently, the cause of glaucoma remained unknown. However, a recent study by the researchers at MIT and Massachusetts Eye and Ear has uncovered some answers that could affect the way the condition is treated and the effects it can have on the eyes.
An Immune Response Gone Haywire
Researchers found the vision loss glaucoma patients experience may actually be their immune system responding to bacteria exposure. This bacteria causes pressure in the eye to increase while triggering heat shock proteins that function as a stress response. In turn, these heat shock proteins are detected by memory T cells which identify the retinal neurons as foreign bodies. They then launch an immune system attack.
Hope for a Cure
Although there is currently no known cure for glaucoma, this new discovery has opened the door for more precise treatment options and perhaps, potentially a cure in due time. By addressing the eye’s immune response to glaucoma, there is potential for eliminating the disease. Researchers are cautiously optimistic as they pursue better treatment options based on these new findings – and they continue to work toward a cure.
Glaucoma is a debilitating disease, but it can be prevented. There are treatments options available that prevent glaucoma from getting worse and resulting in continued loss of sight. That’s why it is so important to see your eye doctor for regular eye exams. The earlier you catch glaucoma, the better your chances are to stop it from progressing and save your vision. Call Florida Eye Specialists today to schedule an exam at one of our seven Jacksonville locations and be proactive about your eye health.