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Genetic test devised for identifying children at risk of developing myopia

Researchers highlighted that the test could be key to early intervention

child thinking
Researchers from Cardiff and Bristol universities have developed a genetic test that identifies children who are at risk of developing myopia.

They highlighted that although myopia can be detected with a sight test, a genetic test could be key to early intervention.

Genetic differences were analysed in over 700,000 individuals using data from the UK Biobank, allowing researchers to come up with a score to predict the individual’s genetic risk of developing myopia.

The study’s co-lead, Professor Jeremy Guggenheim, from Cardiff University’s School of Optometry and Vision Sciences, said the team could now identify one in 10 individuals who were six times more likely than average to develop severe short-sightedness by the time they reached adulthood.

“Treatments are available for slowing down the progression of short-sightedness. Knowing a child is at high risk would help parents and clinicians decide if treatment should be started,” Professor Guggenheim shared.

Paediatric ophthalmologist from Bristol Medical School and study co-lead, Cathy Williams, added: “A genetic test can be carried out at any age, so a test like this – for a high risk of myopia – could give children who are likely to become very short-sighted a head start if carried out when they are young and if there are effective suitable treatments.”

In June 2018, the researchers told OT about their study, which found that every year of education increases the risk of developing myopia.

Image credit: Getty/katleho Seisa