Genetics and Epidemiology


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Glaucoma causes irreversible degeneration of the optic nerve, usually associated with elevated pressure in the eye. This disease is the third leading cause of blindness among all Americans, and is the leading cause of blindness in African Americans. Several of our research programs are directed at the identification of genetic and environmental factors that contribute to glaucoma. 

Family History of Glaucoma Project 

A family history is one of the most important risk factors for glaucoma, and this project has been studying families with glaucoma for over 15 years. This work has been supported by the National Eye Institute and is currently funded by two grants (NEI EY009847, and NEI EY0 015872). Dr. Wiggs is the principle investigators for this study. The overall goal of this project is to identify the genetic factors responsible for glaucoma. Genetic factors that are known to contribute to glaucoma can be used to develop novel methods to screen patients at risk for glaucoma and to diagnose and treat patients with glaucoma. We are actively recruiting patients and family members for this study. Eligible participants should meet the following criteria:

  • Diagnosis of glaucoma
  • At least one living relative who has also been diagnosed with glaucoma.

If eligible, you and your family members will receive a free eye exam either at Massachusetts Eye and Ear. If your family, or a family you know, is interested, call the Family History of Glaucoma Project Study line for more information at: (800) 368-8143.