Land and oceans
White roofs could cool cities: study
Enzyme crystal helps crack HIV puzzle
Sugar sweetens decision making
Twilight zone secrets revealed
Astronomers spot asteroid collision
Algae master quantum mechanics
Protein 'ushers' key to beating malaria
Researchers spin artificial bee silk
New view of Pluto increases mystery
Cell's power packs came from within
Antarctic snow linked to WA dry
Termites inspire hydrophobic materials
Study shows why it's scary to lose money
Soil impact underestimated: climate study
Lack of oxygen forced fish's first breath
Harder Sudoku puzzles on the way?
Weed genes could help feed the world
Logging makes forests more flammable: study
Food crisis looms warn scientists
Tiny sensors track 'lost' objects
'Climategate' university orders review
'Plumbing' key to flowering success
New twist on solar cell design
Scientists set new temperature record
Glaucoma may start in the brain
In what may be a turning point in glaucoma research, scientists have determined that the disease, the leading cause of irreversible blindness, shows up first in the brain, not the eye.

The finding, published in the 1 March edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, ties it to other neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.

Headed by Dr David Calkins, director of research at Vanderbilt University's Eye Institute, the team made the discovery after injecting glaucoma-afflicted rodents with a special fluorescent dye that illuminated sections of the middle of the brain where the optic nerve forms its first connections.

They found that the first signs of the disease were not, as expected, in the retina. Instead, it turned that out the earliest damage was at the other end of the optic nerve, in the mid-brain, which lost its ability to receive information from optic nerve fibers.

The optic nerve is a cable that connects the retina - the light-sensitive tissue lining the inner surface of the eye - with the brain.

"It's a very interesting study," says Dr Darrell WuDunn, residency program director of the Department of Ophthalmology at Indiana University School of Medicine. "It does have potentially profound implications for treatment, and even diagnosis, of glaucoma, if it holds true for humans."
New insights

Conventional thinking is that glaucoma is a disease where the optic nerve gets damaged right where it enters the eye.

"This study shows that the deficits start in the brain, not the eye," says WuDunn.

"We feel the results ... are changing the ways people think about glaucoma," says Thomas Brunner, president and chief executive officer of the privately funded Glaucoma Research Foundation, which supports Calkins' work.

Current methods to detect glaucoma include testing for peripheral vision loss and looking for changes in the pressure of the eye.

"Our technology right now is limited in how early we can detect glaucoma. We can only detect some structural changes, but not very early," says WuDunn.

Not all cases of glaucoma begin with pressure changes in the eye, says Calkins. "It's an insidious disease."

Glaucoma is strongly associated with aging and is more prevalent among some ethnicities, including African-Americans and Hispanics. The disease is predicted to afflict about 80 million people worldwide by 2020, according to the US National Eye Institute.

Horny mother beetles fight for dung
Light-speed computing one step closer
Small asteroids 'just lumps of gravel'
Gene study reveals diverse gut zoo
Dinosaur extinction caused by asteroid: study
Study finds methane bubbling from Arctic
New view reveals Mars' icy history
Some nano-sunscreens 'come at a cost'
Dust bunnies could harbour toxic load
Aphid genome reveals its 'Achilles heel'
Tailored diet may slow down DNA damage
Scientist probe ballistic chameleon tongue
Moa eggshells yield ancient DNA
Toothbrush tech helps buses go green
Gene protects some Tassie devils from tumour
Smaller fish cope better with acidic water
Lunar mirror mystery solved
Parents give fewer bad genes than thought
Women on pill may live longer
Antarctic winds affect key ocean layer
Researchers uncover thalidomide mystery
Boost for evidence of early ocean
Ocean geoengineering may prove lethal
People leave unique 'germ print'
Rogue star on collision course
Butterflies 'fly early as planet warms'
Glaucoma may start in the brain
Tools push back dates for humans on Flores
Stem cell capsules to target broken bones
Ecstasy damages complex memory: study
Earliest animals flexed their muscles
Insomnia may shrink the brain: study
Experts call for 'resilience thinking'
Tutu's DNA could point to medical cures
Humble algae key to whale evolution
Happiness linked to healthy heart
Fewer cyclones, but more intense: study
Cosmic candles result of colliding stars
Flightless mosquitoes may curb dengue
Childhood poverty may leave its mark
Cautious response to technology strategy
Nanowire RAM to make ever-ready computers
Are non-smokers smarter than smokers?
There's iron in them thar Martian hills
'Shell Crusher' shark swam ancient oceans
Nanotechnology may tap into your mind
Small dogs originated in the Middle East
Brain 'hears' sound of silence
Swimmers 'may not understand' tsunami risk
Altruism surfaces on slow-sinking ship
Chile quake tops Haiti, but less deadly
Weedkiller 'makes boy frogs lay eggs'
Visit Statistics