Influences of Glaucoma on the Structure and Function of Synapses in the Visual System

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Significance: Glaucoma is an age-related neurodegenerative disorder of the visual system associated with sensitivity to intraocular pressure (IOP). It is the leading irreversible cause of vision loss worldwide, and vision loss results from damage and dysfunction of the retinal output neurons known as retinal ganglion cells (RGCs). Recent Advances: Elevated IOP and optic nerve injury triggers pruning of RGC dendrites, altered morphology of excitatory inputs from presynaptic bipolar cells, and disrupted RGC synaptic function. Less is known about RGC outputs, although evidence to date indicates that glaucoma is associated with altered mitochondrial and synaptic structure and function in RGC-projection targets in the brain. These early functional changes likely contribute to vision loss and might be a window into early diagnosis and treatment. Critical Issues: Glaucoma affects different RGC populations to varying extents and along distinct time courses. The influence of glaucoma on RGC synaptic function as well as the mechanisms underlying these effects remain to be determined. Since RGCs are an especially energetically demanding population of neurons, altered intracellular axon transport of mitochondria and mitochondrial function might contribute to RGC synaptic dysfunction in the retina and brain as well as RGC vulnerability in glaucoma. Future Directions: The mechanisms underlying differential RGC vulnerability remain to be determined. Moreover, the timing and mechanisms of RGCs synaptic dysfunction and degeneration will provide valuable insight into the disease process in glaucoma. Future work will be able to capitalize on these findings to better design diagnostic and therapeutic approaches to detect disease and prevent vision loss. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 37, 842-861.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)842-861
Number of pages20
JournalAntioxidants and Redox Signaling
Issue number10-12
StatePublished - Oct 1 2022


  • axon
  • glaucoma
  • mitochondria
  • neurodegeneration
  • retina
  • synapse
  • vision

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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