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Briefing in Nation's Capital Focuses on Genetic Basis of Glaucoma

On February 26, AEVR’s Decade of Vision 2010-2020 Initiative held its World Glaucoma Week 2014 Congressional Briefing. The Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (AEVR) encourages federally funded vision research to benefit patients.

Held in conjunction with the American Glaucoma Society Advocacy Day and co-hosted by all major glaucoma societies and research organizations (including the Glaucoma Research Foundation in San Francisco), the briefing was the first time that AEVR featured National Eye Institute (NEI)-funded researchers engaged in studying the genetic basis of glaucoma -- which will lead to new insights into the molecular pathogenesis, effective screening and prevention strategies, and more rational treatment approaches.

Glaucoma is a group of complex neurological diseases that damages the optic nerve, causing loss of peripheral vision and ultimately blindness. More than 2.7 million Americans have glaucoma, which accounts for 9-12 percent of all cases of blindness in the United States, and its prevalence is growing with the aging of the population. It is the third leading cause of blindness in the U.S. and the leading cause among Hispanics.

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Entitled "Determining the Genetic Basis of Glaucoma to Develop Novel Treatments", the briefing featured two researchers from Harvard Medical School's Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary -- Janey Wiggs, MD, PhD, the Associate Chief of Ophthalmology Clinical Research and Associate Director of the Ocular Genomics Institute and Louis Pasquale, MD, Director of Glaucoma Service and Director of Telemedicine.

Dr. Wiggs explained that the overall goal of the research is to identify glaucoma risk factors, which can be both genetic and environmental. The discovery of risk factors can make it possible to develop screening and diagnostic tests that can identify those at risk before irreversible damage to the optic nerve. Characterizing the genes and environmental exposures will help define the molecular abnormalities responsible for the disease, which is the first step toward developing novel therapies targeted to the disease-causing events.

Read more at eyeresearch.org.

Last reviewed on October 29, 2017

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