Building a world-leading resource to predict glaucoma development and improve patient care

10 May 22

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A new world-leading data tool could enable scientists to predict how glaucoma develops with the aim of improving personalised care for patients.

Jointly funded by Fight for Sight and Glaucoma UK, the Moorfields Glaucoma BioResource will address the pressing need to improve the management of glaucoma by linking genetic and clinical data to help predict the progression of the condition.

Led by Moorfield’s Dr Anthony Khawaja -one of the Top 100 most influential people in ophthalmology- the research will focus on primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG), the most common form of glaucoma that is highly heritable.

Previous research has suggested that genetic factors may predict future progression of POAG, but this remains an understudied area as few studies include both genetic and clinical data at the same time.

By analysing this data pool, the team hope to develop prediction models to identify POAG patients at highest risk of progression and blindness. This will enable better and more personalised care for patients and ultimately  alleviate the burden on the NHS.

Addressing a pressing need

Glaucoma is the most common cause of incurable blindness globally. Many glaucoma patients continue to lose vision despite treatment.

It is estimated that, by 2040, the number of people living with glaucoma worldwide will have doubled to 120 million.

Given the chronic nature of the condition, patients require lifelong follow-up appointments.

Glaucoma patients form a large proportion of outpatient visits in the UK hospital eye service with over 1 million glaucoma-related visits per year. This burden is set to increase dramatically with the prevalence of glaucoma.

Furthermore, the UK Glaucoma Treatment Study (UKGTS), indicates that 75% of participants did not measurably progress in their two-year follow-up appointment.

This suggests some low-risk patients may not require treatment or close follow-up. Results also showed that 15% of patients receiving a drug still progressed, suggesting more intensive initial therapy would have been beneficial.

If we were able to predict the risk of progression at first patient contact, this would reduce the risk of blindness in high-risk patients while reducing treatment-associated morbidity and costs in low-risk patients.

Speaking about the project, Dr Khawaja said:

“There is an urgent need to improve care for glaucoma patients. The potential of a prediction model could be huge. We foresee the Glaucoma Bioresource will be a powerful enabler of translation to clinical benefit of multiple streams of genetics research. We eagerly await the outcomes of the project.”