“We already knew that myopia—or short-sightedness—tends to run in families, but until now we knew little about the genetic causes,” says Chris Hammond, a professor at King’s College London. (Credit: “eye exam chart” via Shutterstock)

HEALTH & MEDICINE – Posted by Emma Reynolds-Kings College London on Tuesday, February 12, 2013 12:50

24 new genes linked to nearsighted vision

KING’S COLLEGE LONDON (UK) — Scientists have identified 24 new genes that play a critical role in nearsightedness, a finding that could point to ways to treat and possibly prevent the condition.

Nearsightedness—also known as short-sightedness or myopia—is a major cause of blindness and visual impairment worldwide, affecting 30 percent of Western populations and up to 80 percent of Asian people. At present, there is no cure.

During visual development in childhood and adolescence the eye grows in length, but in people with myopia the eye grows too long. Light entering the eye is then focused in front of the retina rather than on it, resulting in a blurred image.

The refractive error can be corrected with glasses, contact lenses, or surgery. But the eye remains longer and the retina is thinner, and could lead to retinal detachment, glaucoma, or macular degeneration, especially with higher degrees of myopia. Myopia is highly heritable, although up to now, little was known about the genetic background.

To find the genes responsible, researchers from Europe, Asia, Australia, and the United States analyzed genetic and refractive error data of over 45,000 people from 32 different studies, and found 24 new genes for this trait, and confirmed two previously reported genes.

Read more: Futurity.org – 24 new genes linked to nearsighted vision.

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