Rogue gene causes short-sightedness

September 13th, 2010 - 1:35 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Sep 13 (IANS) Scientists have identified a rogue gene that causes myopia or shortsightedness, paving the way for eye drops that could prevent or halt the condition.
Within 10 years, these eye drops could be commonplace, sparing millions the inconvenience of contact lenses, spectacles and laser surgery.

Myopia or blurred vision of distant objects is becoming more common as people tend to stay indoors or hunch over computer screens.

Caused by the eyeball’s overgrowth, it starts developing in childhood. In severe cases, it leads to blindness, reports the Daily Mail.

The latest research, by an international team led by experts at King’s College, London, identified the rogue gene as RASGRF1, says the journal Nature Genetics.

Researchers compared the DNA of more than 4,000 British twins to identify the gene linked with myopia.

Twins are often used in such studies because it is easier distinguish the different effects of nature and nurture.

They then confirmed their results by studying the genetics of another 13,000 British, Dutch and Australian individuals.

Some 45 percent of Britons have the rogue gene and those who have two copies of it are almost twice as likely to be short-sighted as those who are free of it.

Pirro Hysi of King’s College who led the study said: “We have known for many years that the most important risk factor for being short-sighted is having parents who are shortsighted and for the first time we are identifying genes that may be involved in passing on this susceptibility.”

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