Glaucoma is a progressive optic neuropathy and a major cause of visual impairment worldwide. Neuroprotective therapies for glaucoma aim to ameliorate retinal ganglion cell degeneration through direct or indirect action on these neurons. Neurotrophic factor (NTF) delivery is a key target for the development of potential neuroprotective glaucoma treatments. This article will critically summarize the evidence that NTF deprivation and/or dysfunction plays a role in the pathogenesis of glaucoma. Experimental support for the neuroprotective potential of NTF supplementation in animal models of glaucoma will be reviewed, in particular for brain-derived neurotrophic factor, ciliary neurotrophic factor, and glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor. Finally, the challenges of clinical translation will be considered with an emphasis on the most promising NTF delivery strategies including slow-release drug delivery, gene therapy, and cell transplantation.
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