EYECARE: Eye Health Researchers Find Symptoms of Stress-Induced Retinal Aging and Natural Aging Are Similar By Staff Monday, December 5, 2022 12:15 AM IRVINE, Calif.—New research from the University of California, Irvine, suggests aging is an important component of retinal ganglion cell death in glaucoma, and that novel pathways can be targeted when designing new treatments for glaucoma patients. The study, titled, “Stress Induced Aging in Mouse Eye,” was published last month in Aging Cell. Along with her colleagues, Dorota Skowronska‐Krawczyk, PhD, assistant professor in the Departments of Physiology & Biophysics and Ophthalmology and the faculty of the Center for Translational Vision Research at the UCI School of Medicine, describes the transcriptional and epigenetic changes happening in aging retina.The team shows how stress, such as intraocular pressure (IOP) elevation in the eye, causes retinal tissue to undergo epigenetic and transcriptional changes similar to natural aging. And, how in young retinal tissue, repetitive stress induces features of accelerated aging including the accelerated epigenetic age. Aging is a universal process that affects all cells in an organism. In the eye, it is a major risk factor for a group of neuropathies called glaucoma. Because of the increase in aging populations worldwide, current estimates show that the number of people with glaucoma (aged 40-80) will increase to over 110 million in 2040, according to a news release issued by the University. “Our work emphasizes the importance of early diagnosis and prevention as well as age-specific management of age-related diseases, including glaucoma,” said Skowronska-Krawczyk. “The epigenetic changes we observed suggest that changes on the chromatin level are acquired in an accumulative way, following several instances of stress. This provides us with a window of opportunity for the prevention of vision loss, if and when the disease is recognized early.” The research was funded in part by the National Institutes of Health, the Foundation for Polish Science and the European Union under the European Regional Development Fund. It was also supported by the Research to Prevent Blindness Foundation for Department of Ophthalmology at UCI.