The prevalence of myopia is high in many parts of the world, particularly among the Orientals such as Chinese and Japanese. Like other complex diseases such as diabetes and hypertension, myopia is likely to be caused by both genetic and environmental factors, and possibly their interactions. Owing to multiple genes with small effects, genetic heterogeneity and phenotypic complexity, the study of the genetics of myopia poses a complex challenge. This paper reviews the current approaches to the genetic analysis of complex diseases and how these can be applied to the identification of genes that predispose humans to myopia. These approaches include parametric linkage analysis, non-parametric linkage analysis like allele-sharing methods and genetic association studies. Basic concepts, advantages and disadvantages of these approaches are discussed and explained using examples from the literature on myopia. Microsatellites and single nucleotide polymorphisms are common genetic markers in the human genome and are indispensable tools for gene mapping. High throughput genotyping of millions of such markers has become feasible and efficient with recent technological advances. In turn, this makes the identification of myopia susceptibility genes a reality.
- Linkage disequilibrium
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