A new research project examining the proteins that circulate in the eye’s fluids has the potential to pave the way for a test to diagnose glaucoma that doesn’t rely on intraocular pressure.
Investigators from the Center for Biotechnology and Genomic Medicine and Department of Population Health Sciences at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University are beginning a project designed to link the protein profile of the eye’s aqueous humor with the structural damage of glaucoma.
“The aqueous humor has a lot of molecular information because it is in contact with tissues in the eye and there are proteins coming in and out, and all those molecules might be related to function,” Dr Ashok Sharma, principal investigator on the project, said.
To do this, Sharma’s team is creating a database of the proteins and clinical information collected as part of surgical procedures. Technology developed by Sharma allows for this information to be gathered, analysed, stored and integrated, and only requires the tiny amount of aqueous humor roved as part of glaucoma surgery.
There is hope the research could lead to way to diagnose glaucoma that does not rely on high intraocular pressure and instead looks at the proteins present in tears.
“Probably half the people who have glaucoma do not have intraocular pressures above average,” Dr Kathryn Bollinger, a study co-investigator, said.
“That is part of the reason why these studies are so important, because we don’t have a clear diagnostic indication for glaucoma based simply on intraocular pressure.
”Over the next four years the researchers will compare the fluid of 200 patients with glaucoma to 400 with cataracts in a control group. The research is being funded by a US$1.5 million (AU$2.1 m) grant from the US National Institutes of Health.