A step closer to personalised treatment for glaucoma patients
Researchers have established a new world-leading resource that will help unlock new insights into how a person’s glaucoma is likely to progress – paving the way towards new tools to enable more personalised care.
In a project jointly funded by Fight for Sight and Glaucoma UK, a team led by Dr Anthony Khawaja has developed the Moorfields Glaucoma BioResource – an important step towards the development of new tools to help doctors make better predictions about how a person’s glaucoma is likely to progress at the point of diagnosis.
Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness and is characterised by damage to the optic nerve – the nerve that connects the eyes to the brain.
Currently, there is no way to identify which patients are most at risk of blindness who are likely to require intensive treatment – or those at lower risk who could be spared from unnecessary treatments and their associated side effects. The ability to predict how an individual’s disease will progress would help doctors to select the best treatment from the outset – improving patient care and ultimately reducing the burden on the NHS.
Building on Dr Khawaja’s previous research identifying more than 100 genetic factors that can influence a person’s susceptibility to glaucoma, this project aimed to bring together genetic and clinical data from 1,000 glaucoma patients that can be used to develop new prediction tools to enable personalised care.
The team has successfully set up the database and recruited more than 400 patients, linking their clinical data with genetic and lifestyle information from the National Institute for Health Research BioResource.
“The Fight for Sight Small Grant Award has enabled us to establish an important resource that combines genetic and treatment outcome data for glaucoma patients. We envisage this resource will continue to grow over time, and be the basis for many research projects in the future. Our ultimate aim is to enable personalised care of glaucoma based on a patient’s genetic code – so we can pick the best treatment for each individual,” says Dr Khawaja.
Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness and is characterised by damage to the optic nerve – the nerve that connects the eyes to the brain. Glaucoma, which is a small group of similar sight loss conditions, has two major risk factors – elevated pressure within the eyes, and older age.
Around 80 million people across the globe have glaucoma, and with the ageing population, this number is projected to increase to 120 million by 2040.
While treatments for glaucoma – which include eye drops, laser treatment or surgery – can’t reverse sight loss that has already occurred, they can help prevent it from getting any worse.