You’ve worn glasses your whole life. Now, you worry about passing the gene on to your children. Well, according to some researchers, eyeglasses and contact lenses could be obsolete in the next 10 years. Scientists recently discovered a gene that causes nearsightedness - now, scientists are contemplating the development of a drug that could make wearing glasses or contacts a thing of the past.
Nearsightedness, often called shortsightedness or myopia, is a common condition of the eye that makes it difficult for someone to focus on distant objects without the help of prescription glasses or contact lenses. The condition usually starts in childhood - between ages six to 12, and deteriorates the distance vision of a person until around ages 14 or 16 in females and age 20 in males.
Experts at King’s College of London found a gene thought to have an important part in the way the eye develops. Called RASGRF1, the gene is believed to be the cause of overgrowth in an eyeball - which makes distant objects blurry or fuzzy. It’s been known for some time that the most important risk factor for having nearsightedness is having parents with the same condition. This is the first time scientists can identify a gene that may help in passing on the susceptibility of the condition and subsequent need for eyeglasses.
The down side? While scientists are looking to develop an eye drop, pill, or even gene therapy that would interfere with the biological pathway that produces myopia but it will only help children newly diagnosed with nearsightedness. The eye drop could be available within 10 years and would help prevent the eyeball from growing too large in children. Adults will still need to wear prescription eyeglasses in order to combat shortsightedness.