Researchers have received funding to develop a genetic test that identifies people with severe short-sightedness who are most at risk of permanent damage to their eyesight.

Funded by Fight for Sight in partnership with the Welsh Government, a team at Cardiff University said the test may help identify children who are most at risk of developing high myopia.

The three year project will harness information from the UK Biobank to explore what genes may cause a predisposition to myopia.

Lead researcher Professor Jeremy Guggenheim said: ‘Our aim for this project is not only to determine what children are at risk of developing high myopia, but also to be able to identify those who are at above-average risk of sight-threatening eye disease.

‘This will help us to identify people who would benefit from more frequent monitoring to detect early changes, since early treatment is known to improve clinical outcomes.

‘In the longer term, this research will provide us with a greater understanding of the biological mechanisms that cause myopia, which will aid the development of new treatments or lifestyle changes for myopia that are more effective than those currently available.’

Researchers said that recent research has pinpointed hundreds of positions in the human genome that can increase a person’s susceptibility to short-sightedness. However, it is currently unclear how genetic differences result in an increased risk of short-sightedness.