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Greater risk of glaucoma associated with gene variant

While it has been known that people with a family history have a greater chance of developing glaucoma, researchers have recently discovered two new genes that increase people's likelihood of developing glaucoma. This revelation could lead to better screening for the disease and more effective treatments. The study was published in the online journal Nature Genetics. Researchers studied 1500 glaucoma cases and 8500 control cases in Australia and New Zealand. The DNA of the two groups was compared and scientists discovered two common gene variants that seemed to be linked with a greater risk of glaucoma. Study participants who had these two gene variants were found to be three times more likely to have glaucoma than the rest of the population. There was an even stronger link for severe blinding glaucoma. Researchers believe that the gene variants could be responsible for up to 30 percent of glaucoma cases. The discovery of the gene variants will hopefully lead to more effective treatments. Presently, treatments which include eye drops, laser therapy and surgery don't always work. Further studies are underway to better understand the mechanism by which the genes act to increase the risk of getting glaucoma. Elise Ervin Staff Writer  

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