Worldwide, glaucoma is the second-leading cause of blindness after cataracts. About 70 million people have glaucoma globally. Glaucoma result in damage to the retina and cause vision loss. Gradual loss of peripheral vision is followed by central vision, resulting in permanent blindness, if not treated. Glaucoma is often associated with increased intraocular pressure (IOP) that contribute to the optic nerve damage. However, agents that reduce IOP do not seem to stop disease progression and in addition a significant proportion of glaucoma is not associated with increased IOP.

Risk factors for glaucoma include increasing age, high pressure in the eye, a family history of glaucoma, and use of steroid medication. The most common type is open-angle (wide angle, chronic simple) glaucoma, in which the drainage angle for fluid within the eye remains open, with less common types including closed-angle (narrow angle, acute congestive) glaucoma and normal-tension glaucoma. Diagnosis is achieved by performing a dilated eye examinationIf treated early, it is possible to slow or stop the progression of disease with medication, laser treatment, or surgery. The goal of these treatments is to decrease eye pressure. However, treatments aimed at stopping the loss of nerve cells (of the retina and optic nerve), do not yet exist.