Breakthrough in eye disease at Leicester
Researchers at the University of Leicester have identified for the first time a gene which causes a distressing eye condition. Their discovery, as reported in the journal Nature Genetics, is expected to lead to better treatments for the condition.
Nystagmus causes the eyes to move in an uncontrollable manner, so that people with the condition cannot keep their eyes still. Nystagmus can be congenital (occurs at birth or in early childhood) or acquired later in life due to neurological disease.
Congenital nystagmus is frequently genetic. Treatment can be surgical, by correcting an abnormal head position (which occurs because the nystagmus is quietest in a certain direction of gaze) or by correcting a squint. The effects of Nystagmus can also be reduced by drugs.
Recently, the University of Leicester Ophthalmology Group, headed by Professor Irene Gottlob, has shown that drug treatment is helpful in congenital nystagmus, as well as in the form that develops later.
The frequency of nystagmus is unknown. However, over the last six years the Leicester Ophthalmology Group has counted all patients with the condition in the