An investigation into glaucoma and genetics to find new personalised treatments

Research category: glaucoma


Aims and objectives

Glaucoma is an eye condition in which the optic nerve (nerve of sight) becomes damaged. People often don’t notice anything abnormal in its early stages, but when advanced may cause noticeable, and even severe, loss of vision. When untreated, in most patients the condition gradually gets worse over time, usually slowly. The damage is not reversible, so the aim of treatment is to slow down the rate of damage. Ocular hypertension is the medical name for high pressure in the eye-ball. Having ocular hypertension does not mean that you have glaucoma but it puts you at greater risk of getting it, although many with ocular hypertension never actually develop glaucoma. The risk of getting glaucoma is greater with higher pressures and most eye doctors treat ocular hypertension when the pressure is high. Reducing the eye pressure in ocular hypertension reduces the risk of a person going on to get glaucoma.

Work being carried out

At the moment, nearly all patients who have glaucoma or ocular hypertension are given treatment with eye-drops to lower the pressure in the eye. Once started, these are usually continued life-long. However, not all patients like to take drops. An alternative treatment involves gentle laser therapy to the front of the eye (“Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty” or “SLT”). The laser treatment is not experimental. It is a therapy that is in common use. However, it is not used everywhere. The Laser in Glaucoma & Ocular Hypertension Trial (LiGHT) is a large multicentre randomised controlled trial (one being run in the UK and another in China) which is investigating the effect of starting treatment of glaucoma with either laser or eye-drops (and the cost of those treatments).  Enhancing the study is the parallel project to collect blood samples, for DNA extraction, and quality of life questionnaires of participating patients in order to establish a large and robust dataset which will include precise clinical data, genetics, response to treatments and quality of life.  

Outcomes and impact

The research proposed bridges glaucoma with genetics and aims towards the development of new, personalised therapeutic platforms for the treatment of glaucoma and ocular hypertension. The proposed study will work towards provision of better patient care and better patient quality of life, by working towards personalised glaucoma treatment and aiming at faster and better intraocular pressure control with a reduced financial impact on the NHS.


Research details

Full Title

LiGHT Genetics: an investigation into glaucoma pharmacogenomics.

Grant holder

Mr Gus Gazzard

Research Area(s)


Start date

October 2015

Award level


Funding scheme

Project grant

Date: 13 August 2018

Grant reference: R150041A/B, R150044A