LivingA cure for myopia?

A cure for myopia?

Myopia is a condition in which the eye focuses images in front of the retina, rather than exactly on it. The World Health Organization (WHO) says myopia – and high myopia – is increasing at “an alarming rate” around the world, with increased risks for serious eye diseases such as cataracts, retinal damage and glaucoma. Now, a new study published in the journal PLOS Biology points to an interesting solution: the possibility of reversing or stopping the development of myopia with drugs.

Thus, the study, led by researcher Andrei Tkatchenko, of Columbia University in New York (USA) discovered that, for the most part, the development of myopia and hyperopia, involve different genes and signaling pathways cell phone, bringing us closer to the day when drugs can halt or reverse the development of myopia, a common condition expected to affect half the world’s population by 2050.

Before this, specialists generally assumed that “opposite changes in the same genes and pathways” determined how these two eye conditions developed after birth, experts say.

However, their findings contradict the traditional view: they offer an alternative understanding of myopia and “a framework for the development of new antimyopic drugs .”

Tkatchenko and his team cite research suggesting that by 2050, the number of people affected by myopia will reach 4.8 billion people, about half of the world’s population, and that the WHO classifies it among the “five priority health conditions.” of the world.

Nearsightedness impairs distance vision but not near vision; it usually develops because the eye grows too large.

Those with farsightedness experience the opposite: their eye is too short, causing it to focus images behind the retina. This generally makes distant objects sharper than close ones, but in some cases, it can make everything look blurry.

The molecular mechanisms were unclear .

There is evidence that both genes and environmental factors, such as spending less time outdoors and more time reading and using computers indoors, can increase the risk of myopia. Before this study, however, it was not clear what the underlying molecular mechanisms were.

One way to observe the biological development of myopia or hyperopia is by altering the focal length of the eye in laboratory animals. Specialists can do this by placing a lens in front of the eye for several weeks.

Depending on the type of lens, the exposure causes the eye to develop either too long or too short.

The scientists used this method in marmosets to study the development of myopia and hyperopia. They placed a lens in front of a single eye over a period of up to 5 weeks and allowed the other eye to develop normally so that they could compare.


By examining the two retinas of each animal after the exposure time,
the team revealed differences in gene expression between the exposed and the unexposed eye.

However, a comparison between those who had one eye that developed myopia and those who developed farsightedness showed that these conditions were the result of the “activation or suppression of largely different gene pathways.”

The researchers also found that 29 of the genes that changed expression were in the same chromosomal regions that large genetic studies have linked to myopia in humans.

“Identifying these pathways provides a framework for the identification of new drug targets and for the development of more effective treatment options for myopia,” explains Tkatchenko.

Reference: Gene expression in response to optical defocus of opposite signs reveals bidirectional mechanism of visually guided eye growth. Tatiana V. Tkatchenko, David Troilo, Alexandra Benavente-Perez, Andrei V. Tkatchenko Published: October 9, 2018 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.2006021

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