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ARVO 2024: Myopia research highlighted in studies


Research being presented at the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology’s 2024 Annual Meeting in Seattle, Washington, is examining novel interventions that could address the growth in myopia.

(Image credit Wikimedia Commons)

(Image credit Wikimedia Commons)

A pair of studies presented this week at the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology’s (ARVO) 2024 Annual Meeting in Seattle, Washington, explored novel interventions that could address the growth in myopia worldwide.

With its increasing prevalence, it is suspected that by 2050, almost half of the global population will have myopia.

Genetic factors in childhood myopia

A team of researchers from the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, studied genetic variations linked to refractive error and measurements related to eye size in Chinese children, by evaluating specific genetic variants reportedly associated with refractive error and eyeball length in adults.

According to a news release, Ebenezer Zaabaar, OD, the lead team member, and his team genotyped 15 potential genetic variations in a group of 2819 Chinese children. These children had undergone baseline and three-year follow-up cycloplegic refraction and ocular assessments. They found that genetic variants in TOX, ZMAT4, GRIA4 and RDH5 were associated with eye size-related measurements and refractive error in children.1

Two variations in CD55 and RDH5 were linked with three-year changes in corneal curvature and eyeball length. According to the news release, all of these implied that those genetic variations could be associated with how the eye develops refractive error and grows from a young age.1

“The findings of this study offer valuable insights into the genetic basis of childhood eye growth and the early development of refractive error,” Zaabaar said in the news release. “The study has the potential to pave the way for improved understanding, early detection, and novel interventions for refractive errors in children, particularly myopia, mitigating the risk of myopia-related eye complications and potential blindness later in life.”

Investigating myopia suppression with new eye drops

In a separate poster, ophthalmic atropine is being studied for its effectiveness in treating near-sightedness, or myopia. Thus far, the results worldwide have varied and show it to be less effective, especially in specific races like Caucasians. Researchers in Japan investigated other potential myopia-suppressing drugs and developed one with promising results.1

In a previous study, Shin-ichi Ikeda, PhD, lead researcher, and the team showed that scleral, sclera which is the protective outer layer of the eyeball, endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress plays a crucial role in the development of myopia. Furthermore, they were able to show that using chemical chaperones, small molecules that help proteins achieve their correct three-dimensional structure which is crucial for functioning in cells, such as 4-phenylbutyric acid (4-PBA) and tauroursodeoxycholic acid were successful in suppressing the progression of myopia. Thus, they developed a drug using chemical chaperone eye drops.1

Moreover, the researchers found that the 4-PBA eyedrop had a stronger effect in reducing myopia when the dosage was increased.

“Based on our findings that ER stress in the sclera is involved in myopia, we have identified 4-PBA as a potential new myopia suppressive eye drop.” Ikeda said in the news release, “Our discovery provides a new myopia intervention option in addition to atropine and may allow intervention for those less likely to respond to atropine.”

1. The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology-. www.arvo.org. Accessed May 5, 2024. https://www.arvo.org/About/press-room/press-room/Latest-discoveries-in-myopia-research/
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