Researchers say glaucoma may be an autoimmune disease.

A group of researchers at MIT asked, “why can glaucoma continue to get worse even after the IOP is controlled?”

Their theory?
It’s an autoimmune disease.

Here are the steps they discovered in the study.
It all starts with a transient increase in IOP. Normally the eye is an immune-privileged site, meaning there shouldn’t be immune cells in the retina. Immune cells (i.e. T-cells) are kept out by the blood-retina barrier to suppress the inflammatory response in the eye. However, the researchers found that a transient increase in IOP allowed for infiltration of T-cells in the retina – this was seen in both mice and humans in this study. These T-cells then attack heat shock proteins in the retina, which also shouldn’t happen because this is a host protein, meaning the T-cells are attacking it’s own body. The theory is that this causes progressive neurodegenerative changes in glaucoma. (via)

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