OCT could become even more useful in glaucoma detection, diagnosis and research, thanks to new grants from the American Health Assistance Foundation, which funds research on age-related diseases. The organization recently awarded 22 grants – totaling nearly $2.2 million – to scientists worldwide for work on glaucoma and macular degeneration, the two leading causes of vision loss and blindness in the US. Two of the grants are for research on OCT for glaucoma. “Right now, researchers in the US and around the world are getting tantalizingly close to measuring changes in the brain and eye that were previously difficult to spot,” said Dr. Guy Eakin, AHAF’s vice president for scientific affairs. “Improved testing will lead to earlier and more effective treatments to prevent blindness.” Dr. Julie Albon, a lecturer in the Optometry and Vision Sciences department at Cardiff University in the UK, and four co-investigators in Wales, Vienna and London received one of the grants for their work using OCT to study changes in the optic nerve head that could enable speedier diagnosis of glaucoma. The second OCT-related grant went to Dr. Michael Julien Alexandre Girard at Imperial College London and Dr. Nick Strouthidis at London’s Moorfields Eye Hospital. They will use an OCT scanner to explore stiffness of the cornea, and whether its presence at the front of the eye predicts mechanical damage – and, therefore, vision loss – at the back of the eye. The correlation has not yet been established through scientific testing. Optometrists and ophthalmologists may someday be able to use such measurements to determine a patient’s risk of developing glaucoma. Other topics of study that attracted the new AHAF research grants include the brain’s control of eye and brain pressure changes, adult stem cells for improved treatments and gene tracking in various populations.