Genetic Causes Of Poor Eyesight Become Clearer
By Suria Sio | Health & Medicine
March 12, 2013
An international team of scientists have completed the largest study into the genetic causes of poor eyesight.
AsianScientist (Mar. 12, 2013) – An international team of scientists have completed the largest study into the genetic causes of poor eyesight, discovering at least 24 new genes that are associated with refractive error, the most common eye disorder worldwide.
A refractive error occurs when the eye fails to focus light properly onto the light-sensing cells at the back of the eye, known as the retina. Refractive errors frequently result in blurry vision and may cause blindness in extreme cases.
The most common form of refractive error, myopia (near-sightedness), affects up to 80 percent of Asians and over 30 percent of Western populations. People who are near-sighted are also at increased risk of developing more severe eye conditions like glaucoma or retinal detachment.
In this latest study, published in Nature Genetics, scientists working within the Consortium for Refractive Error and Myopia (CREAM) analyzed data from 32 genome-wide studies of refractive error and myopia carried out around the world, making it the largest study of eye problems to date.
In their analysis, the scientists analyzed genome-wide data from over 8,000 individuals of Asian descent and over 37,000 individuals of European ancestry, discovering 24 new genes that are associated with refractive error. Their analysis also identified two gene previously associated with refractive error.
According to the study, people with the largest number of gene variants associated with refractive error are ten times more likely to have myopia than individuals who did not have any of the gene variants.
The scientists hope that insights gained from the study will lead to the development of new strategies to treat and prevent eye problems like myopia.
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