Dr. Janey Wiggs: Update on Genetic Research for Glaucoma

We talked with Dr. Janey Wiggs, a scientific advisor for Glaucoma Research Foundation, at the AAO 2017 meeting in New Orleans about what's new in genetic research for treating glaucoma.

Janey L. Wiggs, MD, PhD is Professor of Ophthalmology, Harvard Medical School, and Associate Chief of Ophthalmology Clinical Research and Associate Director of the Howe Laboratory, Massachusetts Eye and Ear in Boston, Mass.


Video Transcript

Janey L. Wiggs, MD, PhD: Glaucoma treatment hasn’t changed a lot over the time that I’ve been practicing, which is maybe 25 years now. We still give drops to control intraocular pressure, and we still do surgery if the drops fail to adequately control intraocular pressure.

There have been some advances. The development of prostaglandins to lower intraocular pressure has actually been a big advance and has been very helpful for patients. Also, some of the surgeries, newer surgical approaches, are less invasive, and have fewer side effects; but still, we are continuing to treat a risk factor for the disease, and we haven’t been able to devise treatment that’s specific for the underlying disease mechanisms, because we really, previously, haven’t known what they are.

Now, with genetic research, we’re beginning to define these mechanisms, and we can then, in the future, target those actual mechanisms with new therapies that could have a significant impact on disease progression, and even potentially cure the disease in some patients.

I feel very optimistic about the field for glaucoma management. We’ve made great progress in not only genetics, but a number of other important areas of glaucoma research over the past decade. Glaucoma imaging is really becoming very advanced, and that’s a very helpful tool for identifying patients at the earliest stages of disease. Those are the patients that will benefit the most from treatment.

I think that, as research goes forward, genetic research, and other types of research goes forward, as we develop better models for glaucoma, I think we will have even better treatments that will be much more effective than our current treatments, and potentially could cure the disease.


Posted on March 27, 2018; Reviewed on March 17, 2022.