Genetic Variants Can Help Predict Glaucoma Risk

■ A study by researchers from King’s College London, University College London, Massachusetts Eye and Ear, and Harvard Medical School has identified 133 genetic variants that could help predict the risk of developing glaucoma. In the study, scientists evaluated 140,000 people drawn from the UK Biobank and EPIC-Norfolk. Eye pressure readings were taken, which were compared with a DNA analysis of each patient to assess how likely it was that they would develop the disease.

By comparing the pressure test results with a genetic analysis of the many common, small variations in DNA that contribute a tiny amount to overall eye pressure, the team identified 133 genetic variants in the DNA of those who had high pressure readings, and so were at highest risk of developing the condition. The genetic variations predicted whether someone might develop glaucoma with 75% accuracy.

“Knowing someone’s genetic risk profile might allow us to predict what risk of glaucoma he or she carries so that in the future we can focus scarce health care resources on those most at risk,” lead Author Dr. Pirro Hysi from King’s College London, said in a news release.