Glaucoma tests currently rely on Human input, but a new test is in manufacture with researchers testing their exploitive uses of a recently discovered cell that responds very slowly to changes in light. As current tests rely on on human feedback and observation to quick exposures to light sources it is hoped that glaucoma can be detected earlier with its use.
The cell is a group of retinal ganglion cells called intrisically photoreceptive RCG's. They communicate to the brain when light is detected. Previous studies found that these groups of cells were unable to asses whether a light source was continual or shattered, which during an automated vision field test would not pick up deficits in slower reacting ipRCG's. Human test subjects have to report back on what they are seeing throughout the test but these may not be an accurate report. In addition to this, flashes of light will stimulate some retinal cells but as there are so few in number of the slower reacting cells, feedback can be inaccurate.
With grant funding an Ohio Professor is creating an objective pupil test that will measure the function of the ipRCG's.
The response from the group cells can already be isolated from other photoreceptors in test human subjects who are healthy, and the responses can be measured and quantified with existing opthalmic technology. It is hoped that in the future the new test could be used as a clinical test in conjunction with the tonometry test, already commonly practiced to measure fluid pressure within the eye.
With an estimated 60 million people suffering glaucoma throughout the world the new research provides welcome news for advancement in screening for earlier detection.