How the Immune System Affects Glaucoma

Meredith Gregory-Ksander

"New and innovative approaches are necessary to develop new treatments for glaucoma. We're always looking for the next answer."
—Meredith Gregory-Ksander, PhD

As our aging population continues to increase, so does the number of people suffering from glaucoma each year. While the importance of inflammation is now recognized in the field of glaucoma, how it is triggered and controlled is largely unknown.

Meredith Gregory-Ksander, PhD, explains it like this. Think of a cut on your skin. Your immune system responds to heal the wound. It may get inflamed, and you may have a scar, but the cut is closed, and your skin is fine. In the eye, if inflammation is not controlled, a "scar" is essentially the death of tissues, such as retinal ganglion cells (RGC) and the optic nerve. The result: loss of vision.

"We're trying to understand how we can block that inflammation and protect those tissues," she says. Support from National Glaucoma Research is helping Dr. Gregory-Ksander identify and target an important component of inflammation and the immune system, to treat and potentially prevent glaucoma.

"Both my parents were in medicine," she says. "Growing up, I can't remember a time when I wasn't interested or excited about science."

As an associate scientist at The Schepens Eye Research Institute, Massachusetts Eye and Ear, and an assistant professor in the Department of Ophthalmology, Harvard Medical School, Dr. Gregory-Ksander's focus in the lab is preventing RGC death and preserving vision.

"Scientific research is really the nuts and bolts in understanding disease and developing new therapies," she says. "The more research that is done, the more we understand these diseases and can develop new and better treatments that can help even a greater number of patients."

Support investigators like Dr. Gregory-Ksander as they work to prevent, treat, and cure this disease with your future gift to National Glaucoma Research. Contact Charles Thomas at 301-556-9397 or to learn more.