Genetic Research Sheds New Light on AMD and Glaucoma, Two Leading Causes of Blindness
By Shirley Dang
Jan. 13, 2016
Scientists discover new genes linked to glaucoma, macular degeneration
New research has revealed a number of genes that may be connected to two of the leading causes of blindness worldwide.
A recent study published Jan. 11 identified three new genes involved in glaucoma, which affects nearly 60 million worldwide. Other research published in December found 13 areas of the human genome that may somehow be linked to age-related macular degeneration (AMD), now the leading overall cause of blindness in North America and Europe. Read the AMD study
According to the National Eye Institute, which helped fund both studies, the estimated number of Americans with AMD is expected to increase to more than 5.4 million by 2050. Experts say these studies could have a significant impact in the long run.
“The amount of discoveries scientists are making right now with regards to blinding eye conditions like AMD and glaucoma is staggering,” said Andrew Iwach, M.D., glaucoma specialist and clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
“These two studies alone have given us what could be very important clues to how these diseases may develop, and more importantly, how we can help prevent or treat them. Only time will tell, but overall it’s a very exciting time in the field of eye health and vision.”
Both studies appeared in the journal Nature Genetics.
While these findings add to the body of knowledge about two major eye conditions, the American Academy of Ophthalmology does not recommend routine genetic testing for inherited eye diseases at this time. Complex eye conditions such as AMD and glaucoma involve multiple genes and may be affected by behavioral and demographic factors. Those factors could influence whether someone develops the disease, rather than just genetic makeup alone.
Find out more about age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma here: