Oxidative stress and glaucoma: injury in the anterior segment of the eye

S. C. Saccà, A. Izzotti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The perturbation of the pro-oxidant/antioxidant balance can lead to increased oxidative damage, especially when the first line of antioxidant defense weakens with age. Chronic changes in the composition of factors present in aqueous or vitreous humor may induce alterations both in trabecular cells and in cells of the optic nerve head. Free radicals and reactive oxygen species are able to affect the cellularity of the human trabecular meshwork (HTM). These findings suggest that intraocular pressure increase, which characterizes most glaucomas, is related to oxidative and degenerative processes affecting the HTM and, more specifically, its endothelial cells. This supports the theory that glaucomatous damage is the pathophysiological consequence of oxidative stress. Glaucomatous subjects might have a genetic predisposition, rendering them more susceptible to reactive oxygen species-induced damage. It is likely that specific genetic factors contribute to both the elevation of IOP and susceptibility of the optic nerve/retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) to degeneration. Thus, oxidative stress plays a fundamental role during the arising of glaucoma-associated lesions, first in the HTM and then, when the balance between nitric oxide and endothelins is broken, in neuronal cell. Vascular damage and hypoxia, often associated with glaucoma, lead to apoptosis of RGCs and may also contribute to the induction of oxidative damage to the HTM. On the whole, these findings support the hypothesis that oxidative damage is an important step in the pathogenesis of primary open-angle glaucoma and might be a relevant target for both prevention and therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)385-407
Number of pages23
JournalProgress in Brain Research
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • DNA damage
  • oxidative stress
  • primary open-angle glaucoma
  • trabecular meshwork

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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