Local researchers have discovered a potential new treatment for glaucoma, Hong Kong's leading cause of blindness. A research team at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, which announced its findings yesterday, said the drug Topical Sodium 4-Phenylbutyrate was found to prevent and treat steroid-induced glaucoma in rabbits. Researchers are hopeful that the compound can be used in eye drops to prevent and treat glaucoma, which is caused by an increase in eye pressure. It leads to progressive damage to the optic nerve and can result in blindness. About 15 million Chinese have glaucoma, Dr Christopher Leung Kai-shun, associate professor in the university's department of ophthalmology and visual sciences, said. In Hong Kong, glaucoma has been found to be the leading cause of blindness, accounting for 23 per cent of all cases, according to a previous study. Professor Dennis Lam Shun-chiu, the study's principal investigator, said the discovery 'can bring hope to steroid-induced glaucoma patients whose eye pressure cannot be controlled with all the currently available medications'. Steroid-induced glaucoma is a preventable condition, which is caused by the use of steroid medications, such as using eye drops or injection of a steroid to cure the infectious eye disease.