Scientists discover new genes to identify myopia
February 11, 2013
International scientists led by the ‘Kings College of London (UK) found 24 new genes that cause myopia (refractive errors), one of the leading causes of blindness and visual impairment worldwide, for which currently there is no cure.
The research was published in the journal of Nature Genetics, which reveal the genetic causes of this condition, which could lead to better treatments or ways to prevent the disease in the future.
35 percent of the Western population and up to 80 percent of Asians suffer from myopia.
According to experts: “During visual development in childhood and adolescence, the eye grows in length, but grows too myopic and the eye focuses in front of the retina instead of on it, resulting to a blur, a refractive error that can be corrected with glasses, contact lenses or surgery. “
“However, the retina is thinner and this can lead to a retinal detachment, glaucoma or macular degeneration, especially with higher degrees of myopia, a disease that is highly heritable, but so far, little is known about the genetic background”.
Researchers from Europe, Asia, Australia and the United States worked as the Consortium for refraction and myopia (CREAM) and analyzed “genetic data and refractive error of more than 45,000 people from 32 different studies, thanks to which found 24 new genes for this condition and two genes were previously detected.”
The team explained: “Interestingly, the genes showed no significant differences between the European and Asian groups, despite the higher prevalence among Asians. The novel genes include those that run in the brain tissue and ocular signaling, the structure of the eye and eye development. Thus, genes lead to a high risk of myopia, so that the carriers of these genes have a tenfold risk of developing myopia.”
“It was already known that environmental factors, such as reading, lack of outdoor exposure and a higher level of education may increase the risk of myopia, a condition more common in people living in urban areas. An unfavorable combination of genetic predisposition and environmental factors appear to be particularly dangerous for the development of myopia. “
Professor Chris Hammond, from the Department of Twin Research and Genetic Epidemiology ‘King College London and lead author, said that: “We knew that myopia, or shortsightedness, tends to run in families, but so far we knew little about the genetic causes. This study reveals for the first time a group of new genes that are associated with myopia and that carriers of some of these genes have a risk tenfold of developing the disease. “
He concludes that: “In my view, this is a very exciting scientific breakthrough that could lead to better treatments and prevention in the future for millions of people around the world. It is likely that the knowledge gained from this study provide new avenues for the development of new strategies. “