The prevalence of eye disease and blindness in young adults is being neglected because the current focus of researchers is on the elderly and very young, a Perth-based ophthalmologist has warned.
Professor David Mackey said there’s a big gap in our understanding of the rates of eye disease in Gen X and Y – those born between 1965 and 1990.
“Eighty-four large population-based studies have been conducted world-wide but not one has specifically examined young adults,” he said.
“Given more than 30 per cent of the world’s population is aged between 20 and 39, the economic and social costs of eye disease among this group are potentially very high.”
If two drugs are able to be combined within one bottle, it reduces frequency of eye-drop instillation, is less intrusive… and reduces costs.
This topic was one of a number of significant research breakthroughs discussed at the Annual Scientific Congress of The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO) in Canberra late last year.
The Congress also heard that a disease register and DNA bank has been established in Perth to enable analysis of genetic mutations responsible for inherited retinal disease.
“So far, gene mutations causing eye disease have been identified in more than 100 families,” said Dr. John De Roach, of Perth. The information enables family members to be informed of their risk, counselled if required, and allows doctors to improve treatment.
Eye Health Discoveries
Other eye-health discoveries under discussion included a novel drug combination that simplifies glaucoma treatment. People with glaucoma often struggle with complex regimes of multiple eye drops, many times a day.
RANZCO Fellow of Sydney, Associate Professor Ivan Goldberg said 50 per cent of glaucoma patients on medical treatment require more than one drug to control their eye pressures at safe levels.
“If two drugs are able to be combined within one bottle, it reduces frequency of eye-drop instillation, is less intrusive… and reduces costs. This makes it far more likely the patient will persist with treatment, and adherence to medications is vital in glaucoma management.”
The RANZCO Congress also heard about new research linking macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness that affects central vision, with depression and reduced general health and social functioning.