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Glaucoma Research on IOP in Young

Professor David Mackey AO

What is the normal range of intraocular pressure (IOP) in children and young adults, and does it predict later glaucoma?

Professor David Mackey AO, from The University of Western Australia (UWA), is hoping to answer the question with a grant from Glaucoma Australia’s Quinlivan research grant fund.

Glaucoma Australia and its Patron, the Governor-General of Australia, His Excellency the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Retd) announced the 2023 awarding of the grant to coincide with World Sight Day on 12 October.

Prof Mackey, from UWA’s Centre for Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, is the world’s most published author in glaucoma genetics.

A leading cause of blindness worldwide, the main risk factors for glaucoma are family history, genetics, and elevated eye pressure. But there is little information on IOP in young adults and children.

Prof Mackey said data on the range and changes of IOP during childhood and early adulthood is limited in both people with a high genetic risk of glaucoma and the general population.

“Although we can now provide a newborn baby their genetic risk for developing glaucoma in adult life, we do not know when we need to initiate examination or intervention in at-risk individuals,” Prof Mackey said.

“We lack data on the normal range of IOP in children and have presumed it is the same as for adults. Funding from the Quinlivan Research Grant will enable us to collect and analyse data from young participants in the Raine Study, whose parents have been followed by researchers for their entire lives.

“This will enable never-before possible research into the genetic, lifestyle, and intergenerational aspects of IOP, as well as the creation of an IOP reference range for children.” Based in Perth, the Raine Study is the world’s first pregnancy cohort and is one of the largest and longest-running studies of human health from pregnancy through to adulthood to be carried out anywhere in the world.

Established in 1989, 2,900 pregnant women were invited to take part in a study of ultrasound during pregnancy, with the goal of helping scientists investigate the origins of a child’s future health from before they were born.

Those parents and children, along with grandparents and the offspring of those original babies have taken part in 18 different follow-up studies over 34 years, contributing to ground-breaking research on physical health, mental health, lifestyle, and genetics.

Co-investigator and Postdoctoral Research Fellow Dr Samantha Lee said new technology allowed researchers to measure eye pressure in children with minimal discomfort.

“We will measure eye pressure in children from the third generation of the Raine Study cohort, to determine the normal range in this age group.

We will also examine young adults to determine eye pressure changes through early adult life and whether genetic risk influences pressure at a young age.”

Congratulating Prof Mackey, Glaucoma Australia CEO Richard Wylie said his organisation was “committed to supporting Australian research projects like this one, which aims to increase the rate and reliability of early detection of glaucoma”.