Improving the lives of children with glaucoma

Posted 19 Jul 2021

Thanks to generous supporters of eye health at Flinders, researchers are hoping to improve the lives of children with glaucoma by identifying genes which lead to more severe outcomes, while also focusing on methods to improve quality of life for patients, and their families.

Lachlan Knight has received a Flinders Foundation top-up PhD scholarship to study 300 cases of childhood glaucoma in Australia and New Zealand.

“Childhood glaucoma is largely considered to be a genetic condition, yet we’ve found a ‘genetic answer’ for only around 40 per cent of patients,” Lachlan explains.

“This project is really looking at how many children are affected by the condition, what genes cause it, and if some genes cause more severe disease or have a greater impact on vision.

“If we can pinpoint this, then we hope to be able to identify those at risk of worse outcomes so they can get closer follow up and more intensive treatment to stop the progression of glaucoma.”

Lachlan’s work is also the first project in Australia, and one of just a few worldwide, to investigate the quality of life of kids with glaucoma and their families. Glaucoma is a rare condition caused by pressure on the optic nerve.

“Childhood glaucoma is a chronic condition needing life-long follow up,” Lachlan says.

“Some patients have vision loss and can have learning difficulties and social problems which stem from that, there can also be feelings of isolation and being misunderstood because there is a lack of awareness of the disease.

“For parents, they talk about stress, strong emotions and strain on the family, because many worry constantly for their child and what the future looks like for them.

“Some of these stories are quite heartbreaking, so this work is really looking at how families cope, what help they need, and how we can get them the necessary support.”


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