Primary angle closure glaucoma (PACG), a leading cause of blindness has flummoxed doctors for years. Millions progressively lose vision because of elevated pressure in the eye, leading to draining of the eye fluid.
Scientists at Vision Research Foundation of Sankara Nethralaya, Chennai, South India have identified three regions in the human genome associated with the condition.
Experts say that it is the first step in understanding the genetics of glaucoma. Scientists, who are closely studying genes in the identified regions and their association with the condition, say it will eventually help in early diagnosis of the disease, besides planning intervention to prevent or correct the disorder.
One of the sequence variants identified include PLEKHA7, a gene that plays an essential role in blood pressure regulation. About 80% of the estimated 15 million people afflicted with PACG live in Asia, and 11.2 million cases are reported from India.
Vision Research Foundation, Jayamuruga Pandian A, said the variation in these regions possibly denote a defective gene. "There could be other reasons for PACG, but the gene variation is a clear indication," he said.
Dr Agarwal's Eye Hospital chairman Dr Amar Agarwal said anyone aged above 40 years should go for regular eye tests to rule out PACG. "If a person has to change glasses every three months or has a rainbow hallow in vision, he/ she should get a check-up," he said.