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PolyU Scientists Help Identify Genes Causing Myopia
Date:6/3/2013

(PRWEB) June 04, 2013

Two researchers from The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) are taking an active role in a global study which has unlocked the genetic origin of myopia. Through their collaboration with the Consortium for Refractive Error and Myopia (CREAM), 24 genes leading to short-sightedness have been identified, thus paving the way for further research on the prevention and control of myopia.

This largest international genome-wide study was based on the meta-analysis of 45,758 subjects, including 37,382 individuals of European ancestry and 8,376 from Asian countries, with the concerted efforts of 64 universities and research institutes in 13 countries. On Hong Kong side, joining the CREAM are Dr Jeremy Guggenheim, Associate Professor at PolyU's School of Optometry, and Professor Yip Shea-ping, Associate Head (Research) of PolyU's Department of Health Technology and Informatics. Both of them are also members of PolyU's Centre for Myopia Research.

PolyU researchers also noted that over the past 30 years, the number of Hong Kong children developing myopia has risen alarmingly. This year, about 80 per cent will have the condition by the time they leave school. Similarly high rates of myopia are seen in cities on the Chinese mainland, Japan, Taiwan and Singapore.

People with myopia have longer than normal eyeballs, which result in their focusing of images in front of their retinas instead of on them. It is estimated that up to 80% of Asians and 30% of Caucasians are myopic, and high myopia can lead to blindness. Environmental risk factors may have played a large part in increasing the prevalence in Asia over the past half-century, such as children spending less time doing outdoor activities due to dense urbanisation and parental pressure to do well academically.

"It is important to identify genetic factors because they could open the door to developing drugs that can hin
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