Personalised glaucoma treatment being developed

A professor at Ulster University will lead a three-year study to develop a genetic test that can predict how a patient will respond to steroids


A personalised treatment for glaucoma is being developed, national eye research charity Fight for Sight has confirmed.

Marking the announcement to mark World Sight Day today (11 October), the charity explained that it will be funding a research project that aims to create personalised medicine for patients at risk of glaucoma from steroid use.

Ulster University’s Professor Colin Willoughby will use a £170,000 project grant over a three-year period to try to better understand the genetic basis for steroid-induced eye pressure. The study’s overall goal is to develop a genetic test that will predict how a patient will respond to steroids, which are widely used to treat a range of eye conditions.

During the first of its kind study, Professor Willoughby will collect blood samples being taken from around 400 patients who have consistently been treated with steroids. The samples will be analysed using genetic markers in order to understand the underlying genetic basis for the condition.

Professor Willoughby explained that the study will see ophthalmologists from across the UK and Ireland contributing clinical data and DNA samples, labelling the network a “significant resource.”

Director of research, policy and innovation at Fight for Sight, Dr Neil Ebenezer, said: “Using genetics to better understand conditions such as glaucoma and to develop a personalised approach for treatment is an exciting area that is being increasingly explored through pioneering scientific research. The ability to predict those patients that are likely to get steroid-induced glaucoma will make a real difference to the treatment that thousands of patients receive. Clinicians will be able to personalise therapies that are tailored to individual patients thereby reducing adverse events.”

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