| Updated at: 1042 PST, Wednesday, September 15, 2010|
NEW YORK: Scientists from different countries discovered a gene that “is linked to myopia, the vision impairment more common in the world” and they point in the journal Nature Genetics that “the breakthrough could eventually lead to new treatments to prevent this disease, which currently is corrected by wearing glasses.”
Myopia is a refractive defect of the eye with which the focal point of an image is not enough to form on the retina, as would be normal, and the person has difficulty focusing on distant objects. Despite being very common, so far, it is little known about the genetic basis of the disorder.
Specialists from Duke University Medical Center in the United States, King’s College London and researchers from several other countries studied Caucasian populations from different regions of the world including Netherlands, British and Australian. The study, involving more than 13,400 adults, found a “strong association between a number of variations in the gene RASGRF1 and focusing errors in vision.”
Professor Terri Young, leader of the study at Duke University, said, “Because RASGRF1 has high expression in neurons and the retina, is crucial for retinal function and visual memory consolidation.”
The experts confirmed that association with modified mice that did not have the right gene and showed changes in the lens of the eye.
RASGRF1 gene could be a potential target for developing treatments to prevent this disease. Now they hope to identify exactly how these genetic variations affect eye growth in order to develop treatments that produce a correct mixture of genes. For example, they could create drugs to stop the distortion of the eyeball that causes myopia.