Short-sightedness can be explained by our genes.
The first Australian twin study to investigate short-sightedness (myopia) in adult twins is the largest twin study in the world to investigate short-sightedness, associated ocular features and environmental risk factors. It is this study that determined the major component to short-sightedness is genetic, and not environmental factors such as watching too much television or increased near work such as reading or studying.
Myopia is prevalent in currently 20% (one in five) Australians, and is much higher in urbanised areas regions of Asia such as Singapore reaching epidemic levels of 80% or more. It is estimated that a third of the world population by 2020 to have myopia, 2.5 billion people.
Mr Mohamed Dirani completed his PhD on ‘The Heritability of Myopia’ at the Vision Cooperative Research Centre (Vision CRC), through the Centre for Eye Research Australia in Melbourne. [17 May 2007, CRCA Conference]
Dirani provided an overview of his investigation of myopia involving 1200 twins to determine the major genetic component to short-sightedness in a ten minute presentation as part of Showcasing CRC Early Career Scientists. This fourth plenary session of the Cooperative Research Centres Association Conference was chaired by Professor Lyn Beazley, Chief Scientist of Western Australia.
Dirani briefly described myopia and presented a succinct account of the methods and results derived from the study of 1200 twin pairs, including the many number of hours in conducting eye examinations, collecting blood samples for DNA testing, and data collection.
Ongoing research includes genetic testing in the form of linkage studies and a genome wide scan to identify the causative genes associated with short-sightedness.
Identifying the genes that cause myopia will enable the development of early diagnostic kits and preventive strategies with over two billion people world wide to benefit.