Gene for Nearsightedness, Glaucoma Discovered

Good news for those who suffer from nearsightedness and glaucoma! Scientists have recently discovered the gene responsible for both disorders, according to VOAnews.com.

Researchers for deCODE, a company that focuses on genome-related products and services, studied 40,000 individuals to pinpoint the genes responsible for the most common eye health conditions in the world.

Both glaucoma and myopia are widespread in the population, and effect many people. According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, it is estimated that over 4 million Americans have glaucoma but only half of those know they have it. According to the World Health Organization, glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the world. Myopia doesn’t cause blindness, but it does effect the vision of a lot of people.

According to VOAnews.com, nearly one-third of Americans, or about 70 million,  are nearsighted, and more than $5 billion dollars is spent on treating the condition each year.  It is estimated that about 60% (or 42 million) with this eye condition are children. It has also been estimated, by the World Health Organization, that 50% of the world population by the year 2020 will have myopia. The condition is definitely on the rise. Some statistics suggest that only 5% of the population were nearsighted 100 years ago compared to the 30% who have the condition today. For now, options for people with myopia are only corrective eye surgery, which not everyone is a candidate for, or corrective lenses. 39DollarGlasses.com seeks to make myopia, and other conditions that require corrective lenses, as affordable as possible with high quality, prescription lenses at prices that start at $39. It looks like science is making gains on helping correcting myopia medically, however.

“We can reintroduce that gene into the retina by injections at this point, and the retina will take up the healthy gene product and start to produce it and the retina no longer degenerates and the vision improves,” Terri Young, an ophthalmologist at Duke University Medical Center, said of the discovery.

Though it may be a few years before these finding translate into treatment options, those who are currently experiencing difficulty seeing objects that are far away should consult an eye health professional to determine if they suffer from myopia, and what options will work best for them.

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