Scientists have discovered a gene that causes myopia or short-sightedness, a breakthrough which they claim could pave the way for treatment for the most common eye disorder in the world. Myopia happens when the focal point of an image falls just short of the retina at the rear of the eye, causing blurred distance vision.
Now, an international team led by King’s College London has identified the gene, known as RASGRF1, which plays a key role in the development of the eye and the passing of visual signals to the brain for processing. And according to the scientists, a drug that prevents short-sightedness or stops it in its tracks could be in widespread use within just 10 years, making the wearing of glasses negligible. “We have known for many years that the most important risk factor for being short-sighted is having parents who are short-sighted, and for the first time we are identifying genes that may be involved in passing on this susceptibility,” says Dr Pirro Hysi, who led the team.