Eyes of Africa: The Genetics of Blindness

Adeyinka Ashaye

University of Ibadan College of Medicine

Nigeria

Our Collaborative Center “Eyes of Africa: The Genetics of Blindness” will address the staggering economic, societal, and personal cost of irreversible blindness in Africa. The most common cause of permanent blindness in Africa is primary open angle glaucoma (POAG), which is the dominant type of glaucoma in Sub Saharan Africa (SSA). Multiple studies have found that glaucoma disproportionately affects people of African versus European ancestry. As a disease, POAG constitutes the single greatest cause of permanent blindness in Africa and for this reason is the focus of this proposal. We will identify new susceptibility genes for POAG in order to lay the foundation for novel therapeutic intervention, conduct the Sub-Saharan Africa Glaucoma Laser Trial (SSA-GLT) to identify the optimal approach for early treatment of glaucoma and conduct Targeted Glaucoma Screening in Sub Saharan Africa (TGS-SSA): An approach to identify glaucoma early and increase awareness of glaucoma in Sub-Saharan Africa. Successful completion will identify pre-symptomatic glaucoma for treatment, educate families about the disease, and identify highly penetrant mutations that give rise to early onset glaucoma. Our Collaborative Center will fight blindness in Africa in in multiple complementary and synergistic ways that address critical approaches to identify, treat, and understand POAG in Africa. We will build upon our existing large dataset of genotyped samples, expanding this resource using our extensive group of active subject recruitment sites distributed across Africa. In short, this proposal is designed to provide both an immediate and a long-lasting impact to reduce blindness in Africa.