It is a common misconception that increased, high pressure in the eyes solely defines glaucoma. Patients with glaucoma may present with or without the typically high pressure in the eyes associated with the diagnosis. Because it may present with no symptoms, researchers want to examine if the proteins circulating in the fluid of the eyes may be a better predictor or indicator of glaucoma.
Researchers from the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University are trying to associate the protein profile present in the eye's fluid with the structural damage caused by glaucoma. They aim to find a better, easier way to diagnosis this common eye problem, with the hope that our tears may provide the fluid for such diagnostic tests.
They will be monitoring these proteins and potential treatments over the next 4 years, specifically looking at the fluid of 200 patients with glaucoma and 400 with cataracts serving as controls. The study involves comparing the protein profile in the millionth of a liter of fluid from the aqueous humor (removed as part of surgery) with clinical data and demographic and health data.
Dr. Ashok Sharma, principal investigator and proteomics and bioinformatics expert in the Center for Biotechnology and Genomic Medicine and Department of Population Health Sciences at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University, explains, "The aqueous humor has a lot of molecular information because it is in contact with tissues in the eye and there are proteins coming in and out, and all those molecules might be related to function.”
The team is also creating a database of the proteins and related clinical and scientific findings so others can access the data for their own studies.
The ultimate goal is to develop a signature that will determine whether patients are predisposed to glaucoma so that those presenting without typical symptoms may receive earlier treatment, reducing vision loss.
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