Tuesday, 26 February 2013
Short-sightedness could become an impairment of the past, as scientists have unearthed several genes which are instrumental in the formation of short-sight.
The British researchers identified 24 genes that could help them build a drug to prohibit short-sightedness in children.
The drug could benefit millions, and prevent them having to pay out on visual correction such as glasses and contact lenses or even laser surgery.
For future generations of children it could be life-changing in averting the risks of developing short-sightedness, which in extreme cases can lead to blindness.
Short-sightedness or myopia as it is also known is caused by overgrowth of the eye, which in turn means light cannot span the full length of the eye causing objects in the distance to appear out of focus. Short-sightedness can be inherited, or as a result of environmental factors. Unfortunately, it is becoming more common, as the modern lifestyle sees children spending more time in front of digital screens. It currently affects 1 in 3 Brits, but experts fear those numbers will continue to grow.
Chris Hammond a researcher at King’s College in London identified the first gene almost three years ago. Since then he’s been working with Scientists from all across the world to gather genetic data from 45,000 people, helping the team to detect more genes.
Professor Hammond said: “This study reveals for the first time a group of genes involved with myopia and that carriers of some of the genes have a ten-fold increased risk of developing the condition.”
The next step is to understand what these genes do to cause short-sightedness, so scientists can begin building a treatment. It’s estimated the process will take a further 15 years, with much more to learn and extensive testing to be done. All those involved will need to prove that their treatment won’t halt the overall growth of the child when it stops the eye from becoming too large.
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