Glaucoma is an incurable disease that leads to vision loss and blindness and affects around 80 million people worldwide, including around 100,000 to 200,000 in Sweden. Patients are at high risk of becoming blind in one eye.
Previous animal studies have shown that inflammatory events in the retina and optic nerve occur in cases of glaucoma. However, a lack of well-preserved human tissue from suitable patients has made it difficult to confirm that the same processes occur in humans.
But researchers are now able to confirm that inflammation occurs in humans too, thanks to the carefully documented eyes of patients who have previously had to have an eye removed on account of blindness and pain: these are well preserved at the ophthalmic pathology laboratory at St Erik Eye Hospital.
– This study is important as it shows inflammation may be a factor causing damage to the retina and optic nerve early on in the course of the disease. We now have more chance of finding new treatment options,” says Pete Williams, research team leader at Karolinska Institutet.
– Partnership between research groups is enjoyable and important. This project is a good example of how the pathology section is a vital resource, and in many cases a prerequisite for the research done at St Erik,” says Gustav Stålhammar, research team leader at Karolinska Institutet and head of pathology at St Erik Eye Hospital.
Facts about the study
The study was headed by research team leader and senior lecturer Pete Williams, associate senior lecturer James Tribble and research team leader and pathologist Gustav Stålhammar. The team also included junior doctors and visiting researchers (Erasmus).
Link to the article.