Profile: Andrei Tkatchenko

Professor, Columbia U. Medical Center

The main focus of Dr. Tkatchenko’s research is identification and characterization of genes and genetic networks underlying refractive eye development, as well as studies of genetic variations causing development of refractive errors.
Postnatal refractive eye development is a tightly coordinated process whereby visual input drives ocular growth toward zero refractive error in a process called “emmetropization”. The emmetropization process is regulated by a vision-driven feedback loop in the retina and downstream signaling cascades in other ocular tissues, resulting in correct focal length of the eye (emmetropia). Failure of emmetropization leads to the development of refractive errors, i.e., farsightedness (hyperopia) or nearsightedness (myopia). The prevalence of myopia (the most clinically important refractive error in the human population) has increased from 25% to 44% of the adult population in the United States in the last 30 years, and reached >80% in some parts of Asia. Epidemiological data suggest that low-grade common myopia represents a major risk factor for a number of serious ocular pathologies such as cataract, glaucoma, retinal detachment, and myopic maculopathy, which is comparable to the risks associated with hypertension for stroke and myocardial infarction, and represents the seventh leading cause of blindness. In the U.S., the increasing prevalence of myopia also costs $8.1 billion a year for refractive correction alone, negatively affects self-perception, job and activity choices. It is estimated that 2.5 billion people (1/3 of the world’s population) will be affected by myopia by 2020. Uncorrected refractive errors are the major cause of vision loss (particularly in developing countries) and refractive errors are one of five priority pathological conditions according to the World Health Organization.

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Myopia is Potentially Treatable

Myopia (commonly known as nearsightedness) is the most common ocular disorder worldwide. It is estimated that 2.5 billion people (1/3 of the world’s population) will be affected by myopia by 2020.

Category: Science

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