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Glaucoma as Neurodegeneration in the Brain.


Glaucoma, a group of diseases characterized by progressive optic nerve degeneration that results in irreversible blindness, can be considered a neurodegenerative disorder of both the eye and the brain. Increasing evidence from human and animal studies have shown that glaucoma shares some common neurodegenerative pathways with Alzheimer's disease (AD) and other tauopathies, such as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and frontotemporal dementia. This hypothesis is based on the focal adhesion pathway hypothesis and the spreading hypothesis of tau. Not only has the Apolipoprotein E (APOE) gene been shown to be associated with AD, but also with primary open angle glaucoma (POAG). This review will highlight the relevant literature in the past 20 years from PubMed that show the pathogenic overlap between POAG and AD. Neurodegenerative pathways that contribute to transsynaptic neurodegeneration in AD and other tauopathies might also be similar to those in glaucomatous neurodegeneration.

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