David Calkins, Ph.D., Director of Research at the Vanderbilt Eye Institute published a study indicating that the brain may hold the key to the early signs of glaucoma. Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study indicates that glaucoma may be like other central nervous system disorders with its origins being in the brain.
Traditional thinking regarding glaucoma is that the either the high pressure slowly crushes the nerve fibers or the pressure decreases blood flow to the optic nerve. Should Dr. Calkins’ findings be confirmed in human studies it would cause a paradigm shift in the treatment and diagnosis of glaucoma. Dr. Calkin’s study demonstrates that glaucoma starts in the brain and then as the disease progresses the optic nerve starts to show evidence of the disease. Currently Dr. Calkins’ research is directed toward looking for medical therapies that can restore the connection of the nerve fibers between the brain and the retina.
I have to applaud Dr. Calkins and his team for thinking outside the box in their pursuit of answers to the second leading cause of blindness. The study was funded by the National Eye Institute, the Glaucoma Research foundation and Research to Prevent Blindness. More details on the study results are available on The Reporter, Vanderbilt Medical Center’s Weekly Newspaper.