Purpose: The purpose of this study was to study the pattern of foveal ganglion cell loss in experimental glaucoma.
Methods: Retinal ganglion cell size and number in the foveal region of seven monkey eyes with experimental glaucoma was determined and compared to normal monkey eyes. Serial sections of macular retina were studied in two regions: the plateau of peak density of ganglion cells (800-1100 microns from the fovea), and within 500 microns of the foveal center.
Results: In normal eyes, cell densities were 37,900 +/- 2700 in the foveal plateau and 17,200 +/- 1800 cells/mm2 in the foveal center. There was selective loss of larger ganglion cells in glaucoma eyes. The degree of foveal ganglion cell loss was significantly correlated to the degree of nerve fiber loss in the temporal optic nerve of the same eye.
Conclusions: Detection of early, central visual function loss in glaucoma could be enhanced by testing functions subserved by larger retinal ganglion cells.