A major cause of blindness
Glaucoma affects millions of patients worldwide and can lead to blindness if not treated. It is a group of ocular diseases in which the optic nerve is injured, leading to peripheral and ultimately central visual field loss, and is currently considered to be one of the three leading causes of irreversible blindness worldwide. Glaucoma is frequently linked to abnormally high pressure in the eye, elevated intraocular pressure (IOP), due to blockage or malfunction of the eye’s aqueous humor drainage system in the front of the eye. About 3 million people in the United States between 40 and 80 years of age are affected by the most common form of glaucoma, open-angle glaucoma.
Current medications are targeted at reducing IOP to slow the progression of the disease. It is generally accepted that every mmHg of IOP lowering results in a risk reduction in open angle glaucoma progression of approximately 10% to 20%. Numerous eye drops are available to either decrease the amount of fluid produced in the eye or improve its flow out of the eye. Nearly half of the patients with open-angle glaucoma require more than one medication to lower their IOP to a target level at which visual field loss is likely to be minimized or halted. The requirement for multiple medications to lower an individual patient’s IOP to their target level highlights the need for more effective treatments.