The eye is a very complex organ with a remarkable architecture (Figure 1). It is responsible for one of the main senses of the human being, in that every living person can observe the world through his/her eyes: “a mirror of life”. Loosing this sense, and thus loss of sight, leads to a significant reduction in quality of life. Therefore it is crucial to prevent or cure the eye from sight-threatening disorders. In the past centuries several sight-threatening disorders have been described. One of the major eye disorders affecting the visual performance is glaucoma. A few centuries ago the general thought was that glaucoma was a disease of the lens. The word glaucoma means “opacity of the crystalline lens”. Because a greenish color was observed in eyes with glaucoma, the phenomenon has also been known as green cataract. However, extraction of the deep sea-green colored lens in glaucomatous eyes did not result in restoration of vision, but showed that the lens was often clear rather than opacified. Later on, when the difference between glaucoma and cataract was discovered, the term glaucoma was used for several eye disorders other than cataract. Nowadays we still do not exactly know what glaucoma is, but we know that the optic nerve head is primarily affected instead of the lens. Nevertheless, this does not indicate that the historical findings were all wrong. The greenish color of the pupil has been ascribed to corneal haze and the presence of blood pigments in some forms of glaucoma. Even today, in German the phrase “grüne Star” means glaucoma.

epidemiology, genetics, glaucoma
C.M. van Duijn (Cornelia) , J.R. Vingerling (Hans)
Erasmus University Rotterdam
The publication of this thesis was financially supported by: Blindenhulp, Novartis Pharma B.V., Alcon Nederland,Bausch+Lomb,Prof. Dr. Henkes stichting, Ergra low-vision, Heidelberg Engineering GmbH, Christelijke Stichting tot Praktisch Hulpbetoon aan Visueel Gehandicapten van alle Gezindten, Landelijke Stichting voor Blinden en Slechtzienden, Rotterdamse Stichting Blindenbelangen en Koninklijke Visio
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Ramdas, W.D. (2011, November 9). Epidemiologic and genetic insights into open-angle glaucoma. Erasmus University Rotterdam. Retrieved from