Magazine article USA TODAY

Immune System May Trigger Glaucoma

Magazine article USA TODAY

Immune System May Trigger Glaucoma

Article excerpt

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine have identified a protein which leads them to believe that a common form of glaucoma may be triggered by an auto-immune disorder that occurs when the body's immune system attacks its own tissue. Glaucoma, which affects about two percent of Americans over 40, is the second most common cause of irreversible blindness and the leading cause of blindness in African-Americans. The disease results in damage to nerve cells in the retina and, as the disorder progresses, patients first lose peripheral, then central vision. Approximately 25% of those with the disorder have a form of glaucoma in which the eye pressure is not elevated, so-called normal pressure glaucoma (NPG).

Unlike primary open angle glaucoma (POAG)--associated with high pressure in the eye--it is unclear whether NPG patients benefit from medications that lower intra-ocular pressure. "We would maintain that there are large numbers of NPG patients who might benefit more from an auto-immune therapy," says Martin B. …

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