New genetic test to predict and prevent vision loss from glaucoma
It’s the leading cause of irreversible blindness, affecting roughly 76 million people worldwide, and up to fifty per cent of those people don’t know they have it.
Glaucoma damages the optic nerve, causing gradual loss of vision. There is no cure, but treatment can can slow or halt progression – if it’s caught early enough.
Current eye tests can detect glaucoma once damage begins, but a new genetic test developed by Australian researchers at QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute and Flinders University can detect those at risk by analysing a blood or saliva sample.
By identifying 107 genes that increase risk, the researchers were able to develop a glaucoma polygenic risk score (PRS) that predicts likelihood of developing the disease.
“Having a high risk score doesn’t mean you will definitely get glaucoma, but knowing you could be at future risk allows people to take the necessary precautions,” explained lead researcher and head of QIMR Berghofer’s Statistical Genetics Group, Associate Professor Stuart MacGregor.
The team is now planning a more comprehensive study to identify even more genes, which should help to personalise treatment and pinpoint likely onset of glaucoma.
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Source: News Medical