New glaucoma test could save millions from blindness
“It might be possible to treat the main cause of permanent blindness before people notice any loss of vision,” BBC News report.
A proof of concept study of early testing for glaucoma – the most common cause of sight loss – had promising results.
In glaucoma, the light-sensitive cells of the retinal nerve die, usually because of increased pressure in the eye. The damage to the nerve, which is irreversible, causes progressive loss of vision. Because people with glaucoma often don’t have symptoms in the early stages of the disease, a lot of damage may be done before it is picked up. Diagnosing glaucoma early would allow earlier treatment to relieve pressure in the eye, and may prevent sight loss.
The new technique involves injecting people with a fluorescent dye (thankfully into the bloodstream, not the eye), and taking images of the eye. Dying retinal nerve cells show up as white spots on the image.
Researchers compared images from eight people with early glaucoma and eight healthy people, and showed that white spots were more than twice as common in people with glaucoma. They also seemed more common in people whose glaucoma got worse quickly over time.