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Gene linked to myopia discovered

Researchers have identified a gene linked to myopia in Caucasian people from varying regions of the world. Several unique spellings of DNA code near the RASGRF1 gene had a strong link with focusing errors in vision. RASGRF1 is critical to retinal function and visual memory consolidation. While most cases of myopia are not severe, about 2 to 3 percent are pathological cases and include retinal detachment, macular bleeding and premature glaucoma. All of these can eventually lead to blindness. This discovery could potentially lead to treatment for myopia otherwise known as nearsightedness. The eye is an ideal organ for gene therapy because of its small size and self-contained area. This allows the therapy to stay inside the eye in a concentrated volume. Since the eye is easy to access, physicians are more able to study the effects of treatment over a period of time. The retina and other structures within the eye can be illuminated and tested with techniques that are not invasive. It is hoped that this discovery will enable researchers to prevent myopia which is the most common cause of visual impairment. Andrea Schumann Staff Writer

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