The role of oxidative stress in glaucoma

Alberto Izzotti, Alessandro Bagnis, Sergio C. Saccà

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


DNA damage is related to a variety of degenerative diseases such as cancer, atherosclerosis and neurodegenerative diseases, depending on the tissue affected. Increasing evidence indicates that reactive oxygen species (ROS) play a key role in the pathogenesis of primary open angle glaucoma (POAG), the main cause of irreversible blindness worldwide. Oxidative DNA damage is significantly increased in the ocular epithelium regulating aqueous humor outflow, i.e., the trabecular meshwork (TM), of glaucomatous patients compared to controls. The pathogenic role of ROS in glaucoma is supported by various experimental findings, including (a) resistance to aqueous humor outflow is increased by hydrogen peroxide by inducing TM degeneration; (b) TM possesses remarkable antioxidant activities, mainly related to superoxide dismutase-catalase and glutathione pathways that are altered in glaucoma patients; and (c) intraocular-pressure increase and severity of visual-field defects in glaucoma patients parallel the amount of oxidative DNA damage affecting TM. Vascular alterations, which are often associated with glaucoma, could contribute to the generation of oxidative damage. Oxidative stress, occurring not only in TM but also in retinal cells, appears to be involved in the neuronal cell death affecting the optic nerve in POAG. The highlighting of the pathogenic role of ROS in POAG has implications for the prevention of this disease as indicated by the growing number of studies using genetic analyses to identify susceptible individuals and of clinical trials testing the efficacy of antioxidant drugs for POAG management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-114
Number of pages10
JournalMutation Research - Reviews in Mutation Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2006


  • Genetic susceptibility
  • Glaucoma prevention
  • Oxidative stress
  • Primary open angle glaucoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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