Researchers have claimed, blindness from glaucoma starts with an injury in the brain, not the eye.
According to a team, headed by David Calkins, director of research at Vanderbilt University's Eye Institute, the disease - the leading cause of irreversible blindness - shows up first in the brain, not the eye.
The researchers made the discovery after injecting glaucoma-afflicted rodents with a special fluorescent dye that illuminated sections of the middle of the brain where the optic nerve forms its first connections, reports Discovery News.
After analysis, boffins found that the disease's first signs were not in the retina. Instead, it turned that out the earliest damage was at the other end of the optic nerve, in the mid-brain, which lost its ability to receive information from optic nerve fibers.
The optic nerve is a cable that connects the retina, the light-sensitive tissue lining the inner surface of the eye, with the brain.
"It's a very interesting study," Darrell WuDunn, residency program director of the Department of Ophthalmology at Indiana University School of Medicine, told Discovery News. "It does have potentially profound implications for treatment, and even diagnosis, of glaucoma, if it holds true for humans."
"This study shows that the deficits start in the brain, not the eye," WuDunn said.
The research was published in the March 1 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.