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Three Novel Gene Variants Increase Glaucoma Risk in People of African Ancestry, Largest Genetic Study Reveals

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A new study published in the journal Cell on January 18, 2024, has identified three gene variants that increase the risk of glaucoma, a leading cause of blindness, in people of African ancestry.

Glaucoma is a condition that damages the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain. It can cause vision loss and blindness if left untreated.

People of African ancestry are five times more likely to develop glaucoma and up to 15 times more likely to be blinded by it than other groups, according to the study.

Researchers find glaucoma-linked variants in 11,000 participants of African descent using genetics and eye exams.

These variants are novel and specific to people of African ancestry. They could help us understand the genetic basis of glaucoma and develop better treatment

-Dr. Joan O’Brien, senior author of study

The study also found that most of the variants previously identified in other populations did not replicate in people of African ancestry, highlighting the need for more research in this group.

Researchers found three (3) gene variants linked to glaucoma in people of African ancestry, who are more prone to the disease. 

The researchers hope that their findings will help to improve the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of glaucoma in people of African ancestry and other high-risk groups.

They also recommend that people of African ancestry and other high-risk groups get regular eye exams, especially after the age of 40, to detect glaucoma early and start treatment.