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Expert Opin Emerg Drugs. 2011 Jun;16(2):293-307. doi: 10.1517/14728214.2011.563733. Epub 2011 Apr 7.

Current and emerging medical therapies in the treatment of glaucoma.

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University of Genova, Eye Clinic, Department of Neurosciences, Ophthalmology and Genetics, Viale Benedetto XV, 5, 16148 Genova, Italy.



Glaucoma is a disease of the eye in which the optic nerve and retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) are injured, leading to the loss of the peripheral visual field and eventually to profound vision loss and blindness. Glaucoma is usually characterized by an increase in intraocular pressure (IOP), which is treated with ocular hypotensive drugs. However, both RGC apoptosis and optic nerve atrophy, due to glaucoma, can occur independently of IOP.


This review discusses several current and emerging treatments for glaucoma. Current research is updating the known properties of a number of drugs now used to treat glaucoma. Some drugs may offer neuroprotection, not only reducing vision loss, but restoring injured or compromised RGCs and optic nerve cells. Several molecules now under development aim to lower IOP primarily by enhancing aqueous drainage through conventional pathways of the trabecular meshwork and Schlemm's canal. Gene transfer models are being investigated, and a murine-derived neurotrophic growth factor (NGF) seems to offer the promise of actually restoring visual function in some patients. Drugs that are already widely used are being re-branded in preservative-free formulations.


The ultimate goal in glaucoma research is to find new compounds that will not only normalize IOP, but also arrest or even reverse apoptotic damage to the optic nerve and RGCs to slow the rate of progression of the disease so that it will not interfere with the patient's ability to see and his/her quality of life. This should be obtained with affordable costs, minimal side effects and a reasonable schedule.

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