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Approved Research

Genetic and lifestyle risk factors for refractive error

Principal Investigator: Professor Jeremy Guggenheim
Approved Research ID: 83325
Approval date: September 16th 2022

Lay summary

Vision loss seriously impairs the independence and quality of life of those affected, and it incurs high healthcare costs.

Refractive error is a leading cause of untreatable visual impairment in the UK. Two-thirds of people living in the UK have a refractive error, either short-sightedness or long-sightedness. We will study the genetic information of UK Biobank participants in order to discover why certain individuals are more likely than others to develop refractive errors. Stringent safeguards will ensure the anonymity of participants.

In past research we found that too little time outdoors during childhood is associated with an increased risk of short-sightedness. We have also found evidence that education can somehow increase the risk of short-sightedness. We will build on these findings to understand more clearly how time outdoors and education interact with genetic predisposition to short-sightedness. This may have implications for future educational policy.

We anticipate making discoveries that will improve ongoing research into new treatments and allow personalized treatments to be formulated, so that the most effective treatments can be administered to those individuals who will benefit most.