Project 121 – What inhibits the aqueous humor outflow pathway in glaucoma?

31 Oct 2013

Dr Anthony Cook – $39,858

Glaucoma is a degenerative disease attributed to progressive loss of neurons within the optic nerve and is the leading cause of blindness, and affects many older Tasmanians. During glaucoma development, excess protein structures form in a region within the eye known as the trabecular meshwork. How these excess protein structures form is not known, but they are thought to impede the outflow of a fluid within the eye known as aqueous humor. The impeded outflow of aqueous humor leads to a build-up of this fluid and a concomitant increase in pressure within the eye that causes the death of the optic nerve resulting in blindness.

Current treatment of severe glaucoma cases is predominantly via a surgical intervention in a procedure known as a trabeculectomy in which a small hole is made in the trabecular meshwork. The primary aim is to increase the drainage of the aqueous humor from the anterior chamber of the eye, and therefore decrease intraocular pressure. The molecular alterations that contribute to increased outflow resistance are unknown; however study of the aqueous humor and trabecular meshwork tissue may provide novel insight that ultimately lead to improved therapeutics.

This research project aims to understand the process by which these excess protein structures form, and the results will form the basis of future research activity.