There is no cure for glaucoma as of 2015 and potential cures, such as optic nerve cell regeneration, are expected to take many years of research, according to the Glaucoma Research Foundation. Gene therapy, another potential cure, has not yet shown positive benefits in human trials.
Researchers have taken some initial steps toward optic nerve cell regeneration. They are able to remove the cells from the patient’s eye and grow thousands of new cells that live briefly. The next research step is to connect these new cells to those in the patient’s eye and grow a new connection from the brain to the eye, explains the Glaucoma Research Foundation. Because the original cells come from the patient’s own eye, the body does not reject them as it would the cells from a donor.
Current treatment for glaucoma requires the use of eye drops on a daily basis. Gene therapy, along with the development of new medication, has the potential to reduce the need for drops to once every six to 12 months, states the Glaucoma Research Foundation. The use of current medications helps to manage the effects of glaucoma. With treatment, most patients experience no significant vision loss during their lifetime.