Scheme: Wolfson Research Merit Awards
Organisation: Imperial College London
Dates: Aug 2007-Jul 2012
Summary: The aim of my research is to find an effective treatment for glaucoma. Glaucoma is a progressive, irreversible ocular disease, affecting approximately 60 million people world-wide. It is the second most common cause of blindness in western countries. In glaucoma, the pressure within the eye (the intraocular pressure, or IOP) is frequently elevated, and in all cases of the disease there is a progressive loss of the cells that transmit visual information from the retina to the brain (the retinal ganglion cells). It is this loss of ganglion cells that causes blindness in glaucoma.
At present there is no cure for glaucoma; clinically, it is managed by lowering intraocular pressure using medical or surgical means. Although lowering of IOP halts vision loss, there are significant complications of available IOP-lowering therapies: they have undesirable side-effects, and they almost always become ineffective over time. Better prevention of vision loss in patients with glaucoma requires us to understand two basic issues, which are the focus of my research:
1. What controls intraocular pressure, and why does intraocular pressure become elevated in glaucoma? If we knew the answer to these questions we could design better pressure-lowering strategies.
2. How does the elevation of intraocular pressure lead to vision loss? If we knew the answer to this question we could potentially protect retinal ganglion cells and directly preserve vision.