A giant leap in the fight against blindness: new glaucoma study

Credit: Unsplash+

Glaucoma is a scary disease that can cause blindness.

It damages a part of the eye called the retina. The retina is like a camera that captures images and sends them to the brain.

But in glaucoma, fluid builds up in the eye and squeezes the retina. It’s like squashing the camera so it can’t take good pictures anymore.

Why is Glaucoma a Big Problem?

Glaucoma affects a lot of people. Around the world, it has caused blindness in over 75 million people. This includes 300,000 people in Australia alone. It’s a sneaky disease.

Half the people with glaucoma don’t know they have it until their eyes are already badly hurt.

What Happened Recently?

Recently, a team of international researchers made a big discovery. They are from the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute. These scientists found out more about the genes that can cause glaucoma.

Genes are like a recipe book for making a human being. Some recipes (or genes) might have errors that can lead to diseases like glaucoma.

Before this, scientists knew about 127 genes related to glaucoma. But this new study found another 185. That makes a total of 312 genes that can cause this disease. This is the biggest study about glaucoma’s genes ever.

Why is This Discovery Important?

Knowing about these genes is a big step forward. Scientists now know more about what causes glaucoma. They also have new ideas on how to stop the disease.

Professor Stuart MacGregor led the research. He said, “We’ve discovered the set of genes that could be targeted to protect the retinal cells.”

This means that by focusing on these genes, doctors might be able to keep the retina healthy, even if there’s fluid buildup in the eye.

That’s good news because current treatments can only reduce eye pressure. But with this discovery, we might be able to strengthen the retina and stop the damage altogether.

How Can This Help People?

So, what does this mean for people who are at risk of glaucoma? There are two main ways this can help.

Firstly, the researchers identified existing drugs that might be useful. These drugs have already been tested and are safe for humans.

They are used for treating other diseases, like diabetes. Now, these drugs might be used to target the genes linked to glaucoma.

Secondly, the researchers are working on a test to predict who might get glaucoma. Because glaucoma is strongly linked to certain genes, a person’s genes can tell if they’re at risk.

Identifying people at risk means doctors can monitor them closely and start treatment early.

What’s Next?

The researchers want to learn more. They’re looking for more people to join their study, especially people with family members who have glaucoma.

They also want to check if their findings work for people of different backgrounds. That’s because glaucoma is more common in people of African and Asian descent.

Lastly, they found out that glaucoma might be linked to other diseases, like diabetes and multiple sclerosis. So, they want to explore that more.

This new study is a big step in the fight against glaucoma. It brings hope for more effective treatments and for saving millions of people from blindness.

If you care about eye health, please read studies that senior people need to pay attention to this dangerous eye disease, and vitamin B3 may help treat common blinding eye disease.

For more information about mental health, please see recent studies that sitting too much can harm your mental health, and results showing why people with depression cannot fight chronic stress.

The study was published in Nature Genetics. Follow us on Twitter for more articles about this topic.

Copyright © 2023 Knowridge Science Report. All rights reserved.