The genetic basis for adult onset glaucoma: Recent advances and future directions


Wang Z, Wiggs JL, Aung T, Khawaja AP, Khor CC. The genetic basis for adult onset glaucoma: Recent advances and future directions. Prog Retin Eye Res 2022;90:101066.

Date Published:

2022 Sep


Glaucoma, a diverse group of eye disorders that results in the degeneration of retinal ganglion cells, is the world's leading cause of irreversible blindness. Apart from age and ancestry, the major risk factor for glaucoma is increased intraocular pressure (IOP). In primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG), the anterior chamber angle is open but there is resistance to aqueous outflow. In primary angle-closure glaucoma (PACG), crowding of the anterior chamber angle due to anatomical alterations impede aqueous drainage through the angle. In exfoliation syndrome and exfoliation glaucoma, deposition of white flaky material throughout the anterior chamber directly interfere with aqueous outflow. Observational studies have established that there is a strong hereditable component for glaucoma onset and progression. Indeed, a succession of genome wide association studies (GWAS) that were centered upon single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) have yielded more than a hundred genetic markers associated with glaucoma risk. However, a shortcoming of GWAS studies is the difficulty in identifying the actual effector genes responsible for disease pathogenesis. Building on the foundation laid by GWAS studies, research groups have recently begun to perform whole exome-sequencing to evaluate the contribution of protein-changing, coding sequence genetic variants to glaucoma risk. The adoption of this technology in both large population-based studies as well as family studies are revealing the presence of novel, protein-changing genetic variants that could enrich our understanding of the pathogenesis of glaucoma. This review will cover recent advances in the genetics of primary open-angle glaucoma, primary angle-closure glaucoma and exfoliation glaucoma, which collectively make up the vast majority of all glaucoma cases in the world today. We will discuss how recent advances in research methodology have uncovered new risk genes, and how follow up biological investigations could be undertaken in order to define how the risk encoded by a genetic sequence variant comes into play in patients. We will also hypothesise how data arising from characterising these genetic variants could be utilized to predict glaucoma risk and the manner in which new therapeutic strategies might be informed.

Last updated on 10/01/2022