According to the British Journal of Ophthalmology, the discovery of a layer of tissue in the cornea that controls fluid regulation in the eye is proving significant to patients with glaucoma, the second-leading cause of blindness in the world. This breakthrough discovery is building optimism among doctors, researchers and patients and paving the way for new glaucoma treatments and prevention methods.
The 2013 study was conducted by Professor Harminder Dua of the Department of Ophthalmology at the Queens Medical Centre in Nottingham, U.K. Dua examined the tissue structure of 20 eye samples. Using an electron microscope and light, Dua found a band of collagen fibers (now dubbed the Dua Layer) located toward the rear of the cornea. This band of fibers is the source from which trabecular meshwork (TM) along the front chamber of the eye extends. Under normal circumstances, fluid is supposed to drain through the TM; insufficient drainage is already known to cause the pressure buildup associated with glaucoma.
The Future of Treatment
Many developments and improvements are expected to come from the discovery of this new layer in human eyes. Medical News Today quoted Dua as saying, “From a clinical perspective, there are many diseases that affect the back of the cornea, which clinicians across the world are already beginning to relate to the presence, absence or tear in (the Dua Layer).”
As of this writing, it is still too early to report on improvements in current glaucoma treatment, but researchers are encouraged and hopeful. One early finding associated with the discovery of the Dua Layer has to do with corneal hydrops, which is what happens when fluid pours in and builds up in the cornea, causing the pressure that can lead to glaucoma. It’s now thought that this condition is caused by a tear in the Dua Layer, a condition that could possibly be repaired surgically to stop the flow of fluid and alleviate the pressure.
Awareness & Prevention
Doctors who understand the relationship between the Dua Layer and glaucoma are already working on ways to improve drainage and provide pressure relief for at-risk patients. In the meantime, the traditional preventative recommendations are still reliable steps to take.
The Mayo Clinic advises wearing eye protection, eating a healthy diet and treating eye pressure with drops. As we mentioned, relieving this pressure may be done via surgical repair of the Dua Layer in the future, but for now, eyedrops are still the go-to treatment. Keep your eyes healthy through regular exams every three to five years, and yearly if you’re over 60.
If you wear disposable contact lenses, change them as frequently as your doctor recommends, and discuss any concerns you have about wearing contacts with your doctor. You should be able to continue to wear contacts, even if your doctor prescribes glaucoma eyedrops, but some oral medications can only be taken if you don’t wear contacts. Other medications may affect your vision, causing a change in your lens prescription.