Scientists have identified a gene that causes short-sightedness, a discovery which paves the way for treatment to prevent one of the world’s most common eye disorders. So could this mean the end of spectacles?
A pair of glasses used to come with its own brand of humiliation in the classroom.
“Four-eyes”, “Specky-git” and “Goggles” were some of the names that rang out in the playground and scarred many a childhood.
Short-sightedness, or myopia, which makes distant objects appear blurred, often begins in childhood, and it appears to be growing in the UK – now affecting about one in three British adults. But a scientific breakthrough announced this week could start to reduce that number within a decade.
Scientists based in London have identified a gene that causes myopia and are confident that drugs could be developed to halt the distorted growth of the eye that brings about the condition. In about 10 years, shortsightedness could be cured through eye drops, says Dr Chris Hammond, who led the research at King’s College London.
“We’ve known for many years that the most important risk factor to short-sightedness as you get older is family history,” he says.