Experts at the University of Liverpool say they are closer to finding a cure for a disease which is one of the world's leading causes of blindness.
More than 65 million people - mainly elderly - suffer from glaucoma.
Ophthalmologists at the university say they have found new structures inside the body which cause cells to become rigid and stop working.
Confirmation that Clans - cross-linked action networks - are in the eye could lead to new treatments, experts say.
Professor Ian Grierson said: "Confirmation of their presence in the part of the eye affected by glaucoma, known as the trabecular meshwork, could well lead to new treatments for this disease.
"Such treatments are essential as glaucoma remains a major cause of blindness in the elderly. After cataracts, it is the second leading cause of vision loss in the world, with over 65 million people suffering from the disease."
The university's team is now working to understand the reasons why Clans form.