Register for an account

X

Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.

X

Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.

Health

Goodbye Glasses? Scientists Find Genetic Pathways for Near-Sightedness

80beatsBy Andrew MosemanSeptember 15, 2010 2:54 AM
glassesupclose.jpg

Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

The genetics behind near-sightedness are coming into focus. In studies (1, 2) in Nature Genetics that looked at more than 4,000 people, scientists report that variations in a gene called RASGRF1 are partly responsible for whether or not a person develops myopia.

"It is not quite the end of glasses yet but clearly the hope is that we will be able to block the genetic pathways that causes shortsightedness," said Dr Christopher Hammond at King's College London, an eye surgeon who led the British research. [The Telegraph]

Myopia is thought to be hereditary, but there's growing evidence that environmental factors—like staring at a computer screen all day long—have made the condition rampant in modern society. Hammond, though, envisions that someday treatments in the form of eye drops or tablets for kids could be crafted to block the genetic pathways for near-sightedness. Says Hammond:

“We are certainly only at the stage of starting to discover the pathways, and our results suggest there are probably many genes each of small effect in the population – so there is no single myopia gene. Rather like a deck of cards, we are dealt many variants which may increase or decrease our risk, and if you are dealt a lot of high numbers, so to speak, you are more likely to end up myopic.” [Optometry Today]

So this is not quite sayonara for spectacles. Hammond told Optometry Today

it will be difficult to suss out all the genes at play in eye development and target the ones that lead to myopia without messing up anything else. In addition, the discovery doesn't address the onset of far-sightedness for many people as they age, so reading glasses aren't going anywhere. Plus, speaking for bespectacled people everywhere, we look good. Related Content: Gene Expression: The Myopia Epidemic!

(with handy stats & tables) 80beats: Myopia Mania: Americans More Nearsighted Than Ever

80beats: The Eyes Have It: Lab-Made Corneas Restore Vision

80beats: Stem Cell Treatment Lets Those With Scorched Corneas See Again

Image: flickr / Zaprittsky

2 Free Articles Left

Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.

Subscribe

Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

Want unlimited access?

Subscribe today and save 70%

Subscribe

Already a subscriber? Register or Log In