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International Foundation for Optic Nerve Disease

Funding research and disseminating information on causes, prevention and treatment.
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Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases where vision is lost due to damage to the optic nerve. Glaucoma affects many millions of people worldwide. Glaucoma is the second-leading cause of blindness worldwide after cataracts. In the United States about 7% of the population 65 years and older is affected. Peripheral vision may begin to decrease followed by central vision resulting in blindness if not treated. The most common type is open-angle glaucoma with less common types including closed-angle glaucoma and normal-tension glaucoma. In the past the various forms of glaucoma were thought to be solely due to mechanical problems: either increased pressure on the optic nerve from some form of trauma, or decreased blood flow (ischemia) to the optic nerve. However, it has long been apparent that increased pressure throughout the eye only damages certain cells in the eye and that the drugs used to decrease the pressure, though sight-saving, do not completely stop the progressive visual loss. Current research offers an explanation for why drugs to decrease pressure are not as effective as they should be.

Glaucoma is increasingly thought of as a neurodegenerative disease rather than a simple mechanical problem. The same neurochemical events leading to neuronal cell death in ischemic optic neuropathy also occurs in glaucoma. There is still much to be learned about how glaucoma causes visual loss, but enough is already known for researchers in many laboratories to be on the hunt for ways to protect nerve cells from damage in glaucoma. Results of this important research may impact treatments for other optic nerve and neurodegenerative diseases.

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The information contained on this website should not be considered medical guidance or professional advice. IFOND is not responsible for errors or omissions in information provided on this site or actions resulting from its use. IFOND does not publish all information from all available sources on optic nerve disease. IFOND is not responsible for the validity of the studies or reviews nor is it an advocate of studies or reviews mentioned on or linked from the IFOND web site. IFOND does not endorse or recommend participation in any particular clinical trial or treatment protocol which may be mentioned on this site. Direct any questions concerning your personal health to your appropriate health care professional.