Two separate studies funded by the National Eye Institute have recently found sets of genes that may be responsible for macular degeneration and glaucoma, the two leading causes of blindness around the globe. Both studies are featured in the journal Nature Genetics.
In January 2016, a study was published that detailed three new genes that have been linked to the development of glaucoma, a condition that affects approximately 60 million people globally. Not long before, in December 2015, another study was able to make a connection between 13 parts of the human genome and macular degeneration, the number one cause of blindness in both North America and Europe.
The NEI estimates that the number of Americans that are affected by macular degeneration may rise to almost five and a half million people by the year 2050. Optimistic researchers hope that these new findings may help to cut that number down.
The amount of discoveries scientists are making right now with regards to blinding eye conditions like AMD and glaucoma is staggering, Andrew Iwach, M.D., glaucoma specialist and clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology commented , adding These two studies alone have given us what could be very important clues to how these diseases may develop, and more importantly, how we can help prevent or treat them. Only time will tell, but overall its a very exciting time in the field of eye health and vision.
by Emily Tait