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Glaucoma and genetics: Is DNA the Key?

Submitted by dave on Wed, 02/13/2008 - 12:43am


Obviously, genetics are an important factor in how we develop and age. However, genetics are probably one of the most over rated-factors involved in the development of disease. In short, my position is that our DNA is not the key to glaucoma.

The standard party line goes about like the paragraph below, which is written by the distinguished Wallace L.M. Alward, M.D. I do not mean any disrepect to Dr. Alward, but I do wish to highlight that this line of thinking is quickly becoming outdated. Here is what Dr. Alward said in the September 2005 issue of Gleams: 

"Your DNA holds the key to determining most things about how you will ultimately develop—how tall you will be, how big your nose will be and what diseases you will battle. If we can determine which sections of DNA are responsible for the development of glaucoma then we will have substantially more power over the disease. We have learned a great deal about glaucoma genetics over the past decade and the Glaucoma Research Foundation has been instrumental in supporting laboratories such as ours in the search for these answers. [...] As these genes are discovered, the pathways that they are parts of will be understood and targeted interventions can be developed. Each genetic discovery is a piece of the puzzle that is glaucoma. Through solving this puzzle we will develop improved tests and treatments that may one day eliminate the world’s leading cause of irreversible blindness."

Gene-based treatments will not eliminate glaucoma in any of our lifetimes. However, in no way am I pessimistic about the potential for finding cures for glaucoma that we can take advantage of in a timely fashion.

The expression of our genes is affected by (maybe we should even say controlled by) our thoughts, feelings and memories. Our thoughts, feelings and memories define us at a deep level. When I said, "When we can fundamentally change ourselves at the deepest level, we can cure our glaucoma," I was basing my statement on a wealth of scientific research. One very small, but very strong part of that research, is the finding that the expression of our genes can be altered -- sometimes as quicky as in two seconds -- by our thoughts and feelings.

You are not a product of your genes. You are a product of your thoughts and feelings and actions. (To be complete, I must add that you are a product of the friends you choose, the work you choose, and the entire environment that you create for yourself -- but that environment is more fundamentally a result of your thought processes because those proceed your choices.)

For those of us with glaucoma, our glaucoma is not so much a product of our genes as it is a product of our thoughts, feelings and lifestyle. And we can begin changing our thoughts, feelings and lifestyles immediately. We do not need to wait decades for the false promise of a genetic miracle cure for glaucoma (or any other disease). We can act now to influence how our genes are expressed and we can begin enjoying better health now -- within as little as two seconds.

"Our feelings create our physical body." -- Dave

Those of you with tonometers will be able to see how your feelings affect your intraocular pressure. So called "fast" emotions such as anger, rage or fear have an almost immediate effect on intraocular pressure. Slower emotions (such as sadness, despair, hopelessness, for example) affect intraocular pressure more subtly. I used to think that feeling a bit down didn't affect my eye pressure negatively at all -- because no effect was immediately apparent. Other people in our high frequency self-tonometry project told me the same thing. However, now that we have data over longer periods of time, I am finding some trends related to the "slower" emotions that unfold over a longer period of time. There is still a lot to learn, and it is exciting to see more trends unfolding.

However, the existing knowledge from many fields gives us a clear map to what we can expect to find in regard to intraocular pressure and glaucoma in the future. We will find that our state of consciousness (which includes, in part, our thoughts, feelings, memories and beliefs) is the most important factor in glaucoma -- not our DNA.

To start managing your intraocular pressure and glaucoma, start cultivating joy in your heart -- it's as simple as that. One first step is to love yourself, including your current state of vision

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