Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness worldwide. Vision loss from glaucoma occurs when axons in the optic nerve become damaged and can no longer carry visual information to the brain.
Glaucoma is most often treated by lowering pressure in the eye with drugs, laser surgery, or traditional surgery. However, these treatments can only preserve remaining vision; they don’t improve or restore vision that has already been lost due to glaucoma.
Why Is Vision Loss In Glaucoma Permanent?
The nervous system is divided into the peripheral and the central systems. Damaged peripheral nerves, in your arm for example, can regenerate after injury. However, the optic nerve and the spinal cord are in the central nervous system and unfortunately cannot regenerate after injury. This is why vision loss from glaucoma, like paralysis from spinal cord injury, is permanent. The unique cellular environment of nerve cells in the central nervous system may be why regeneration is prevented.