Scientists have found that pressure from the fluid surrounding the brain plays a role in maintaining proper eye function, a finding that may lead to new treatments for glaucoma - the second leading cause of blindness worldwide.
Using a rat model, researchers found that elevating the pressure of the fluid surrounding the brain can counterbalance elevated pressure in the eye, preventing the optic nerve from bending backward.
Rats with higher fluid pressure from the brain maintained their ability to respond to light better than rats with lower pressure.
The brain and eye are connected by the optic nerve. In diseases like glaucoma - where vision loss is associated with elevated pressure within the eye - the optic nerve bows backward, away from the eye and toward the brain.
This investigation might explain why some people with normal eye pressure develop glaucoma, and why people with intraocular pressure never develop the condition, researchers said.
The research is being presented at the 2014 Annual Meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) in Orlando.