You are here: Home Publications Assumption-free estimation of the genetic contribution to refractive error across childhood

Assumption-free estimation of the genetic contribution to refractive error across childhood

Guggenheim, J. A., St Pourcain, B., McMahon, G., Timpson, N. J., Evans, D. M., & Williams, C. (2015). Assumption-free estimation of the genetic contribution to refractive error across childhood. Molecular Vision, 21, 621-632. Retrieved from http://www.molvis.org/molvis/v21/621.
Studies in relatives have generally yielded high heritability estimates for refractive error: twins 75–90%, families 15–70%. However, because related individuals often share a common environment, these estimates are inflated (via misallocation of unique/common environment variance). We calculated a lower-bound heritability estimate for refractive error free from such bias. Between the ages 7 and 15 years, participants in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) underwent non-cycloplegic autorefraction at regular research clinics. At each age, an estimate of the variance in refractive error explained by single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) genetic variants was calculated using genome-wide complex trait analysis (GCTA) using high-density genome-wide SNP genotype information (minimum N at each age=3,404). The variance in refractive error explained by the SNPs (“SNP heritability”) was stable over childhood: Across age 7–15 years, SNP heritability averaged 0.28 (SE=0.08, p<0.001). The genetic correlation for refractive error between visits varied from 0.77 to 1.00 (all p<0.001) demonstrating that a common set of SNPs was responsible for the genetic contribution to refractive error across this period of childhood. Simulations suggested lack of cycloplegia during autorefraction led to a small underestimation of SNP heritability (adjusted SNP heritability=0.35; SE=0.09). To put these results in context, the variance in refractive error explained (or predicted) by the time participants spent outdoors was <0.005 and by the time spent reading was <0.01, based on a parental questionnaire completed when the child was aged 8–9 years old. Genetic variation captured by common SNPs explained approximately 35% of the variation in refractive error between unrelated subjects. This value sets an upper limit for predicting refractive error using existing SNP genotyping arrays, although higher-density genotyping in larger samples and inclusion of interaction effects is expected to raise this figure toward twin- and family-based heritability estimates. The same SNPs influenced refractive error across much of childhood. Notwithstanding the strong evidence of association between time outdoors and myopia, and time reading and myopia, less than 1% of the variance in myopia at age 15 was explained by crude measures of these two risk factors, indicating that their effects may be limited, at least when averaged over the whole population.
About MPI

This is the MPI

The Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics is an institute of the German Max Planck Society. Our mission is to undertake basic research into the psychological,social and biological foundations of language. The goal is to understand how our minds and brains process language, how language interacts with other aspects of mind, and how we can learn languages of quite different types.

The institute is situated on the campus of the Radboud University. We participate in the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, and have particularly close ties to that institute's Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging. We also participate in the Centre for Language Studies. A joint graduate school, the IMPRS in Language Sciences, links the Donders Institute, the CLS and the MPI.

 

Street address
Wundtlaan 1
6525 XD Nijmegen
The Netherlands


Mailing address
P.O. Box 310
6500 AH Nijmegen
The Netherlands

Phone:   +31-24-3521911
Fax:        +31-24-3521213
E-mail:   


Public Outreach Officer
Charlotte Horn