Studies at the Glaucoma Department at Singapore National Eye Centre suspects that glaucoma runs in the family.
Glaucoma: Risks factors
Scientists here studying primary angle closure glaucoma (PACG), a leading cause of blindness among Chinese people, have identified three genes that increase the risk of patients developing the condition.
The study shows that someone with all three genetic variants is more likely to have the disease. Two of the genes regulate fluid that passes through tissues in the eye, while the function of the third is still unknown.
The three-year study is the world’s first large-scale research on the genetic factors associated with PAC G. More than 20,000 people from seven countries, including 9,300 from Singapore, took part in it.
The disease is the second most common type of glaucoma in the world, and the most common among the Chinese. It affects 15 million people worldwide, 80 per cent of whom live in Asia.
The study was done in Asia, as PACG is a disease with more implications for Asia.
Glaucoma may be hereditary
The findings confirm a suspicion of
Professor Aung Tin, Senior Consultant and Head,
Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC), a member of the
SingHealth group, and the lead principal investigator of the study. He has been researching the disease for more than 10 years and believes it is hereditary.
“The study provides further evidence that genetic factors play a role in the development of PACG. It may lead to new insights, and create the possibility of novel treatments and the early identification of people at risk of the disease,” said Prof Aung, who is also Deputy Executive Director, Singapore Eye Research Institute (SERI).
He led the team from SERI, SNEC, the National University of Singapore, the Genome Institute of Singapore, National University Hospital and Tan Tock Seng Hospital, as well as hospitals from six other countries. Their findings were published in Nature Genetics in August 2012.
Click on page 1 to learn about SNEC's app to remind glaucoma patients to apply eye drops.