Washington: Scientists have found a generesponsible for myopia or nearsightedness, a discovery thatcould lead to new treatment for the eye disorder which isat present affecting a quarter of the world`s population. Myopia happens when the focal point of an image fallsjust short of the retina at the rear of the eye, causingblurred distance vision. It`s the most common eye disorder inthe world but little is known about its genetic underpinnings. Now, a team of scientists led by researchers at DukeUniversity Medical Centre in Durham claimed that they haveuncovered a gene, identified as RASGRF1, which triggers thevison problem.
He said: "The eye is already an organ of choice for genetherapy, for example, because the eye`s small volume andself-contained area allow the therapy to remain inside the eyein a concentrated volume. "In addition, the eye`s accessibility lets cliniciansobserve the effects of treatment over time with noninvasivemethods that can illuminate and test the retina and other eyestructures." Often the discovery of a gene still means that many yearscould pass before a treatment becomes available. However, genetherapies are already working well in some eye conditions, andmyopia may be a good candidate condition for gene repair. While many cases of myopia are mild, about two to threeper cent are pathological cases with retinal detachment,premature glaucoma, macular bleeding, and glaucoma leadingeventually to blindness, said Young, who has spent over adecade studying the severe form of myopia. Up to 80 per cent of people in Singapore have myopia whileabout one in three Americans is suffering from the disease.Countries with a high prevalence of nearsightedness have ahard time finding fighter pilots, to give one example of howmyopia affects a population. The exact cause of nearsightedness is unknown, but twofactors may be primarily responsible for its development:heredity and visual stress. "Today`s near work forces our eyes to constantly be intension to focus on near objects -- reading papers andwatching monitors... These factors affect children withdeveloping vision, as well as many adults," said Young. The study was published in the journal Nature Genetics.PTI
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