National

Over 100 genes linked to risk of glaucoma

By AAP Newswire

Australian researchers have pinpointed more than 100 genes they say will increase a person's chances of developing glaucoma.

Glaucoma affects the optic nerve connecting the eye to the brain in about one in 30 Australians - or 300,000 people - and causes slow loss of vision.

There is no cure and about 50 per cent of people who have it don't know they do.

Now, a study by the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Brisbane has found 107 genes that can increase someone's risk of developing the disease.

They've used that finding to develop a new risk score that can predict who is likely to get it.

Stuart MacGregor, Associate Professor and lead researcher and the head of the institute's Statistical Genetics Group, says that test will be made once it becomes accredited in about one year.

"You can get glaucoma from birth and childhood, but the vast majority of people are in their 50s, 60s and older," he said.

"The goal will be to try to find people who are going to get it earlier, so they can be treated earlier, and then also find the people who are destined to not get it at all or much later."

Having a high risk score doesn't mean someone will develop the disease, but will help them take precautions.

Treatment can slow or halt the rate of the disease progressing in most cases.

The researchers now want 20,000 people to sign up to their study so they can find more genes involved in the disease.

People can get involved by going to: www.qimrberghofer.edu.au/genetics-of-glaucoma