Using rats and mice to study high pressure glaucoma, the researchers discovered that in the early stages of the disease there is a loss of communication between the optic nerve and the midbrain.
'The degeneration works in reverse order,' said researcher Dr David Calkins. 'It starts in the brain and works its way back to the retina.' Dr Calkins and his team believe the findings will lead researchers to reconsider the view of glaucoma as exclusively a disease of the eye.
The study suggests that new therapies could target neuronal activity in the midbrain, rather than focusing on lowering intra-ocular pressure as current therapies do.