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Clin Exp Ophthalmol. 2012 May-Jun;40(4):341-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1442-9071.2012.02773.x. Epub 2012 Apr 5.

Definition of glaucoma: clinical and experimental concepts.

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South Australian Institute of Ophthalmology, Hanson Institute and Adelaide University, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia.


Glaucoma is a term describing a group of ocular disorders with multi-factorial etiology united by a clinically characteristic intraocular pressure-associated optic neuropathy. It is not a single entity and is sometimes referred to in the plural as the glaucomas. All forms are potentially progressive and can lead to blindness. The diverse conditions that comprise glaucoma are united by a clinically characteristic optic neuropathy: glaucomatous optic neuropathy (GON). Evidence suggests that the primary site of neurological injury is at the optic nerve head. This fact enables the conditions to be grouped, irrespective of the causal mechanism(s). The term experimental glaucoma implies model resemblance to the human condition. We propose that 'experimental glaucoma' be restricted to animal models with demonstrable features of GON and/or evidence of a primary axonopathy at the optic nerve head. A fundamental inadequacy in this framework is any reference to the pathogenesis of GON, which remains unclear.

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