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Test may spot Glaucoma 10 years before symptoms begin

Scientists from University College London, Imperial College, and Western Eye Hospital have developed a novel technique that involves injecting a fluorescent dye into the bloodstream.Glaucoma is usually caused by pressure changes inside the eye that kill the retina’s nerve cells. As these cells become stressed, they start to change their chistry and more fatty structures move to the outside of the cell.{{quote-A:R-W:450-I:2-Q: For the first time in humans, we have a test that identifies [glaucoma] disease activity before the disease develops. We are possibly talking five to 10 years before it would normally be identified, -WHO:Professor Francesca Cordeiro, Educational Supervisor at Western Eye Hospital}}According to study co-author Professor Francesca Cordeiro, the dye clings onto these fatty structures and illuminates signs of glaucoma in the form of white fluorescent dots.“For the first time in humans, we have a test that identifies [glaucoma] disease activity before the disease develops. We are possibly talking five to 10 years before it would normally be identified,” Cordeiro said.Participants with glaucoma had on average twice as many white fluorescent spots compared to the participants with healthy eyes. The participants whose glaucoma progressed over the following months also showed more white spots compared to those whose condition rained the same as a result of treatment.Among those without eye disease, the older participants also had more white spots. The disease was found more commonly among those over the age of 75.Although the first phase of clinical trials donstrated positive results, so far it has only been tested on 16 people and Cordeiro said more research is needed before it can be approved for commercial use.No major side effects have been reported from the trial participants, except for one who complained of pain when it was administered and another who showed bruising after the injection.Current treatments for glaucoma are able to stop or reduce the progression of the disease, but the damage is impossible to reverse, which makes early detection critical.

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