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Alzheimer’s disease and glaucoma: Is there a causal relationship?
  1. Peter Wostyn (wostyn.peter{at},
  2. Kurt Audenaert (kurt.audenaert{at},
  3. Peter Paul De Deyn (dedeyn{at}
  1. Department of Psychiatry, PC Sint-Amandus, Reigerlostraat 10, 8730 Beernem, Belgium
  2. Department of Psychiatry, Ghent University Hospital, De Pintelaan 185, 9000 Ghent, Belgium
  3. Laboratory of Neurochemistry and Behavior, Institute Born-Bunge, University of Antwerp, Belgium


    Evidence of a link between Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and glaucoma has emerged from studies showing that patients with AD may have a significantly increased occurrence rate of glaucoma. In addition, it has been reported that patients with AD exhibit optic nerve degeneration and loss of retinal ganglion cells. In spite of intensive research, the clinical and genetic relationships between AD and glaucoma remain obscure. It is unclear whether the clinical correlation between the two diseases might be due to shared risk factors or the influence of one disorder on the other. Interestingly, certain observations may provide a clue towards a better understanding of the high rate of comorbidity reported between AD and glaucoma. In this article, we hypothesize that there may be a causal relationship between AD and glaucoma that may be explained by decreased cerebrospinal fluid pressure (CSFP) in patients with AD. A very recent study reported the intriguing new observation that mean CSFP was 33% lower in subjects with primary open-angle glaucoma compared with that of nonglaucomatous controls. It was noted that this observation supports the concept that an abnormal high trans-lamina cribrosa pressure difference, whether the result of elevated intraocular pressure, reduced CSFP, or both, plays an important role in glaucomatous optic nerve damage. Interestingly, it was also reported that a substantial proportion of AD patients have very low CSFP. Therefore, we hypothesize that an abnormal high trans-lamina cribrosa pressure difference may explain why patients with AD have a greater risk for developing glaucoma.

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