Are your eyes always foggy and you think it may just be eye fatigue? There is a possibility of glaucoma!
Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in Hong Kong. There are around 120,000 glaucoma patients in Hong Kong and a seventh of them are blind. However, there is currently no cure for glaucoma, because damaged nerve cells cannot be regenerated. Treatment can only control the degree of visual impairment.
The common cause of glaucoma is the increase of intraocular pressure, which causes axonal disease in the retinal ganglion cells (RGC). Many research teams around the world are working towards breakthroughs on therapies. Professor Ting XIE, a member of the International Glaucoma Foundation and director of the Life Sciences Department of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, is one of them. He has focused on stem cells for 20 years. He discovered that although retinal stem cells (RSCs) expanded in vitro can produce photoreceptors, the brain could not get connected to them. Hence, transplanted photoreceptors died after 3 months again.
Therefore, he decided to stop researching treatments but focus on the root cause of glaucoma instead. The ciliary body (CB) appears in different reports to secrete aqueous humor to maintain intraocular pressure and supports various ocular tissues to create the intraocular microenvironment. Professor Xie is currently identifying key factors affecting CB secretion. This is to understand the causes of neurodegeneration in glaucoma. This will further develop stem cell therapies for degenerative eye diseases.
This is definitely a very challenging quest. But thanks to the hard work of scientists like Professor Xie, we believe some light will finally be brought to patients around the world.