Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai has just chosen two children for a novel genetic testing procedure. Ophthalmologists hope this new test will help the medical community better understand the genes responsible for retinal dystrophy.
The siblings chosen for this study are named Mohammed and Eryam. Both children are under eleven years old and have advanced cases of early onset retinal dystrophy.
Executives at Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai say they are going to use a genetic test procedure called the Oculome on these children. The Oculome is a next generation sequencing (NGS) test that can diagnose a wide variety of inherited eye diseases.
Researchers say the Oculome can scan at least 450 genes that are directly related to eye diseases. 240 of these genes, scientists say, are responsible for retinal disorders.
Dr. Mariya Moosajee, who works as a consultant ophthalmologist at Moorfields Eye Hospital London, will perform this Oculome scan in the near future. Dr. Moosajee told reporters this test will be a great leap forward for improving patient care at Dubai's Moorfields branch.
Retinal dystrophy refers to any hereditary disease that affects the light-sensitive retinae. One of the most common of these disorders is known as retinitis pigmentosa (RP). There are less than 200,000 cases of RP each year in the USA.
Symptoms of RP typically appear in childhood and include tunnel vision and difficulty seeing at night. Unfortunately, there's no cure for RP at the moment. All doctors recommend RP patients wear high-quality sunglasses, avoid smoking, and incorporate antioxidant-rich foods into their diet. While these strategies won't cure RP, they could slow down the progression of blindness.
In addition to working as an ophthalmologist, Dr. Mariya Moosajee is an expert on genetic diseases and a senior lecturer at UCL's Institute of Ophthalmology. She has received over 30 awards for her work and has been published in at least 40 peer-reviewed journals. Dr. Moosajee earned her degrees in genetics and embryology at Imperial College London.
In addition to the Dubai branch, there's a second Moorfields Eye Hospital branch in the United Arab Emirates. This second eye hospital is in the city of Abu Dhabi.