An electrical current could restore the sight in a condition that affects millons of people, scientists claim.
Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness, according to the World Health Organization.
It occurs when fluid is not properly drained from the eye, causing damage to the optic nerve which connects the eye to the brain.
Many patients have blurred vision as if they were seeing through dirty glasses which gets progressively worse as they age.
There is currently no cure for the devastating condition.
An electrical current could restore sight in using a technique known as alternating current stimulation (ACS) It involves attaching four electrodes around patients’ eyes and send currents directly to the brain
Now, however, scientists have shown that administering pulses of electricity into the brains of glaucoma patients massively improves their sight and quality of life.
After just ten days, many were able to walk unassisted, see distant objects and read small writing in books.
This is the first treatment capable of reversing damage and restoring vision – currently the only options available for patients are to prevent future blindness.
The technique is known as alternating current stimulation (ACS) and involves attaching four electrodes around patients’ eyes.
Doctors then switch on the current for approximately 50 minutes and it travels directly to their brain.
The treatment works by making the brain more powerful so it is better able to decipher the information which travels down the damaged optic nerve.
A team of researchers at the Magdeburg University in Germany studied 82 patients, of whom 45 underwent alternating current stimulation treatment for ten days.
Afterwards, tests showed their vision had improved by an average of 24 per cent and many said their sight was less blurred and they were able to read small writing again.
Dr Bernhard Sabel, lead researcher of the study published in PLOS One, said the technique was so effective it should be routinely offered by hospitals.
He said: ‘This can partially restore vision in patients with stable vision loss caused by optic nerve damage.’
‘ACS treatment is a safe and effective means to partially restore vision after optic nerve damage probably by modulating brain plasticity, re-synchronizing brain networks, which were desynchronized by vision loss.
‘This is the first ever large-scale multi-centre clinical trial in the field of non-invasive brain modulation using electric currents and suggests that visual fields can be improved in a clinically meaningful way.’
Age, suffering from diabetes, ethnic origin and a family history of the disease can all cause glaucoma.
At the moment patients with the condition can have treatment to prevent future sight loss, but there is nothing available to repair damage that has already occurred.
Many use eye drops which contain a drug to help the eye properly drain fluid.