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Whats That In the Distance? A Possible Cure for Short-sightedness

September 15, 2010 1 comment

Researchers in the UK announced that they have found a gene which is believed to cause short-sightedness (myopia), a study recently published in Nature Genetics. Given enough time, a drug could be developed to combat the progression of the condition, thus eliminating the need for glasses.

Myopia is a condition caused when they eye grows too large. The eye cannot focus light directly on the retina, making distant objects appear blurry.

Myopia is caused when the eye grows too long and light cannot be focused on the retina. Image Credit: HowStuffWorks.com

As a short-sighted person, I found this particularly interesting. However, lets not start throwing away our saline solution just yet.

The lead researcher, Dr. Chris Hammond, said that a treatment could be developed within 10 years. Whoa there doctor.

Completing a set of clinical trials can take years, if not decades. And approval of such a drug would have to be made on a country by country basis.

And lets not forget that you haven’t even begun developing a drug which can be considered entering into a clinical study yet. All that’s been found is a gene which is possibly linked to short-sightedness.

Don’t get me wrong. This was an impressive study over 12 years get these results. It is an interesting find and deserves further investigation.

However, I do take issue when news outlets overstate the importance of a find, let alone when a scientist gives them fodder for doing so. It is an incremental step towards treating short-sightedness, which is important, but we are a couple of decades at least from a cure.

The article, in fact, does a good job of contradicting their own headline (not sure if they deserve and accolade for that or not). They discuss how glasses will not be totally eliminated. The reasons include there are still far-sighted people in the world; the need for reading glasses as we get older; and perhaps most importantly is the fact that glasses are now trendy and considered attractive, if you find the right pair.

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So great job to the group in the UK for making this discovery. But discoveries inevitably lead to more work, so get crackin’ boys.