Dr Nigel Barnett, Queensland Eye Institute and Prevent Blindness Foundation.
Glaucoma is the major cause of irreversible vision loss worldwide and currently affects at least 60 million people accounting for slightly more than twelve per cent of all global blindness. Despite the common occurrence of glaucoma, its causes are still poorly understood. Although the mechanisms underlying retinal degeneration (particularly retinal ganglion cell death) in glaucoma are complex - vascular insufficiency, hypoxic-ischaemic injury, excitotoxicity, mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress are considered contributory factors. We have investigated these mechanisms using animal models of acute retina ischaemia, and developed a mouse model of chronic ocular hypertension, which mimics the prevalent (80%) human glaucoma characterized by raised intraocular pressure (IOP). Our histological and electroretinographic data suggest that perturbed glutamate homeostasis and compromised creatine metabolism may be potential targets for therapeutic intervention, to prevent IOP-induced retinal ganglion cell dysfunction and cell death.