Research by scientists in England and Italy suggest that amyloid beta protein, the major constituent of the brain plaques that are a hallmark of Alzheimer disease, might also be responsible for retinal cell death in patients with glaucoma (Guo L et al. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007;104:13444-13449).
Using a rat model of glaucoma, the researchers found that amyloid beta accumulates in dying retinal ganglion cells and that adding this protein to retinal cells in vivo induced cell death. They also found that giving the animals agents that inhibit the formation and accumulation of amyloid beta reduced death of retinal ganglion cells, especially when given in combination.
Stephenson J. Glaucoma Clues. JAMA. 2007;298(11):1268. doi:10.1001/jama.298.11.1268-a