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Approved Research

A series of investigations exploring the relationship between genetic and environmental factors and acute and chronic ocular and neurological conditions

Principal Investigator: Professor Helen Danesh-Meyer
Approved Research ID: 76765
Approval date: November 5th 2021

Lay summary

Aims: Our overarching aim is to explore eye-brain function relationships. Glaucoma is a condition which there is gradual damage to the optic nerve, or the nerve of sight.  While the optic nerve is located at the back of the eye it is actually an extension of the brain or central nervous system. It is recognised that one of the processes that contributes to glaucoma progression is neuroinflammation, or inflammation of the nervous system.  The focus of this research is to identify and evaluate biological, behavioural, and environmental factors in the aetiology of glaucoma and related neurodegenerative disorders in which neuroinflammation plays a significant role.

Scientific Rationale:  Glaucoma is regarded as a neurodegenerative disorder. However, the evidence for this hypothesis is controversial, as it is based on generally smaller studies that have reported variable results. Using the powerful and detailed database of UK Biobank, we will robustly evaluate multiple biological, behavioural, and environmental factors implicated in neurodegenerative pathways to determine their causal relevance to glaucoma and related neurodegenerative conditions, thereby identifying modifiable risk factors for glaucoma. In addition, we will develop risk scores which incorporate environmental, biological, physical and genetic variables, thereby advancing risk prediction of glaucoma.

Project duration: 3 years

Potential Public Health Impact:  Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness. Presently, there are no significant modifiable risk factors other than intraocular pressure. This investigation will identify modifiable environmental, physical, biological and genetic biomarkers in relationship to glaucoma.  Furthermore, it will explore the association between glaucoma and neurodegenerative pathways which will allow a deeper understanding of the underlying mechanisms that impact the disease process