Retinal ganglion cell loss is size dependent in experimental glaucoma

Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 1991 Mar;32(3):484-91.


Thirty-two areas located in the temporal midperipheral retina were evaluated in whole-mount preparations from four monkeys with monocular experimental glaucoma. Diameter frequency distributions of remaining ganglion cells in the glaucomatous eye were compared with corresponding areas in the normal fellow eye. Large cells were significantly more vulnerable at each stage of cell damage as determined by linear-regression analysis. The magnitude of size-dependent loss was moderate at an early stage (20% loss), peaked at 50% total cell loss, and decreased in advanced damage (70% loss). In glaucomatous eyes, the lower retina had significantly more large cell loss than the corresponding areas of the upper retina. In optic nerve zones that matched the retinal areas studied, large axons selectively were damaged first. Psychophysical testing aimed at functions subserved by larger ganglion cells is recommended for detection and follow-up of early glaucoma; however, assessment of functions unique to small cells is more appropriate for detecting change in advanced glaucoma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Count
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Glaucoma / pathology*
  • Macaca fascicularis
  • Optic Nerve / pathology
  • Regression Analysis
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / pathology*