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At the 2019 Glaucoma Patient Summit, Yvonne Ou, MD (Associate Professor of Ophthalmology, University of California San Francisco) spoke about “promising research horizons and the path to a cure.”
In this blog post, Dr. Ou summarizes recent advances in glaucoma research and highlights some of the most innovative and promising approaches to diagnosing glaucoma, curing glaucoma, and restoring vision.
There's a lot of excitement in the area of glaucoma research, and in glaucoma in general, in terms of new medications and new glaucoma surgical options. In the area of glaucoma research, there are many dedicated scientists who are trying hard to understand glaucoma at its root cause, and also trying to potentially cure glaucoma with some exciting and innovative approaches.
Some of the research areas that I highlighted in my talk were:
My lab has greatly benefited from support from the Glaucoma Research Foundation (GRF). With the research grants from GRF, we've been able to explore new avenues that we might not otherwise have been able to explore, and also try to generate new hypotheses, new sets of experiments that we could then further study and try to grow into bigger research directions.
One such area is the use of ERG or electroretinography, which is a more objective way of measuring retinal function than having a patient do a visual field test. And we've been trying to develop novel ERG stimuli to diagnose glaucoma earlier and follow its progression.
One of the main interests of my lab is trying to identify those ganglion cells that are more vulnerable in glaucoma, because we know that not every retinal ganglion cell is the same. There are some that are more susceptible and there are some that are more resilient, and this is work that has been replicated in many different labs, which I think is great because it means that it's a robust finding. For example, Dr. Andrew Huberman (Stanford University) who was a GRF Catalyst for a Cure researcher, also found that the same retinal ganglion cell type that we found in a different model was also more susceptible to glaucoma. Glaucoma Research Foundation has been very supportive of this work through both their Shaffer Grants and their Catalyst for a Cure collaborative research grants.
The Glaucoma Patient Summit really covers a wide range of glaucoma topics, from having speakers discussing the latest surgical advances to the newest medications, as well as physicians talking about how to improve glaucoma care and the physician/patient relationship, and also alternative treatments, and new research findings. Attending the Patient Summit really is a wonderful way for a patient to get educated about their disease, which I think is an important aspect of one's care.
I think it's important to raise awareness about glaucoma and highlight the needs that patients have. It’s important for patients to hear about what's going on in the research arena, and to learn about new technologies, but also for the doctors who treat glaucoma to be able to know what patients are concerned about.
When my patients ask me about new research findings, sometimes it's hard because I have to say “well, we have interesting findings in the lab, but it’s not yet ready for use in patients.” But I do think that the bridge from the lab research to clinical use is getting smaller. There are many research scientists and clinician scientists who recognize that we need to get these new potential glaucoma treatments from the lab to the clinic more quickly, if we can.
Last reviewed on April 21, 2020