In a finding that may have significant implications for how glaucoma is diagnosed and managed, researchers from the University of South Florida (USF) have found that both eye and brain pressure are physiologically connected.
According to research published in the Journal of Physiology, the strain placed on the optic nerve relates to not just eye pressure, but the difference in pressure between the eye and the brain. The team came to this conclusion by altering the brain pressure in animal models and spotting changes in the fluid drainage properties of the eye.
When chemicals that eliminated feedback signals from the brain were used, the eye returned to a state of healthy pressure across the optic nerve.
“The drainage control system may service to protect the optic nerve from swings in eye or brain pressure,” Dr Chris Passaglia, professor in the USF Department of Medical Engineering, said.
“Its discovery offers a new target for glaucoma treatment, wherein the modulatory mechanisms of the system might be exploited to help lower eye pressure and impede disease progression in glaucoma patients.”
The team is now trying to pinpoint the precise details of what signals are sent to the brain through which particular nerve fibres. This could potentially pave the way for more accurate glaucoma diagnosis and potential therapeutic pathways.