Glaucoma is an umbrella term for a number of diseases that damage the optic nerve, which is the cluster of nerve fibers that links the retina - the light-sensitive tissue that lines the back of the eye - to the brain.
Optic nerve damage disrupts the transmission of visual signals to the brain, which can result in vision loss and blindness.
Glaucoma is most commonly caused by a buildup of eye pressure, which can damage the optic nerve. However, the precise mechanisms by which optic nerve damage occurs have been unclear, but researchers from Macquarie University in Australia may have shed some light.
The team found that a protein called neuroserpin plays a key role in retinal health, but that this protein is inactivated in glaucoma. They suggest that their findings may lead to much-needed strategies to prevent and treat the disease.