For the first time in the world, Iranian scientists have succeeded in discovering the gene responsible for a common type of blindness, prevalent in North Eastern parts of the country.
Latest figures have revealed that one in every family living in Esfarayen, in North Khorasan province, are blind, indicating that the blindness gene runs in these families. Scientists and officials had long considered climate and environmental factors as the main cause contributing to the condition.
According to Normohammad Ghiasvand, a genetic professor in Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, the high prevalence of a certain gene accounts for the considerably high number of blind people in this area.
“Physicians can simply detect the presence of the gene in blood samples and even in the amniotic fluid sample of the unborn. The test is accurate and inexpensive,” Ghiasvand told IRIB News Agency.
He went on to say that the genetic examination of the parents can prevent the birth of blind children.
Children born with such a disease are believed to be healthy at the time of birth. Their cornea, however, darkens gradually and the child would not be able to detect light, even sun rays, in the first days of his/her life.
The autosomal recessive disease is characterized by optic nerve atrophy and retinal detachment caused by tears in the inner nervous tunic of the eye.