Glaucoma Genetic Risk Scores in the Million Veteran Program

VA Million Veteran Program

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) is a degenerative eye disease for which early treatment is critical to mitigate visual impairment and irreversible blindness. POAG–associated loci individually confer incremental risk. Genetic risk score(s) (GRS) could enable POAG risk stratification. Despite significantly higher POAG burden among individuals of African ancestry (AFR), GRS are limited in this population. A recent large-scale, multi-ancestry meta-analysis identified 127 POAG-associated loci and calculated cross-ancestry and ancestry-specific effect estimates, including in European ancestry (EUR) and AFR individuals. We assessed the utility of the 127-variant GRS for POAG risk stratification in EUR and AFR Veterans in the Million Veteran Program (MVP). We also explored the association between GRS and documented invasive glaucoma surgery (IGS). Design: Cross-sectional study. Participants: MVP Veterans with imputed genetic data, including 5830 POAG cases (445 with IGS documented in the electronic health record) and 64 476 controls. Methods: We tested unweighted and weighted GRS of 127 published risk variants in EUR (3382 cases and 58 811 controls) and AFR (2448 cases and 5665 controls) Veterans in the MVP. Weighted GRS were calculated using effect estimates from the most recently published report of cross-ancestry and ancestry-specific meta-analyses. We also evaluated GRS in POAG cases with documented IGS. Main Outcome Measures: Performance of 127-variant GRS in EUR and AFR Veterans for POAG risk stratification and association with documented IGS. Results: GRS were significantly associated with POAG (P < 5 × 10–5) in both groups; a higher proportion of EUR compared with AFR were consistently categorized in the top GRS decile (21.9%–23.6% and 12.9%–14.5%, respectively). Only GRS weighted by ancestry-specific effect estimates were associated with IGS documentation in AFR cases; all GRS types were associated with IGS in EUR cases. Conclusions: Varied performance of the GRS for POAG risk stratification and documented IGS association in EUR and AFR Veterans highlights (1) the complex risk architecture of POAG, (2) the importance of diverse representation in genomics studies that inform GRS construction and evaluation, and (3) the necessity of expanding diverse POAG-related genomic data so that GRS can equitably aid in screening individuals at high risk of POAG and who may require more aggressive treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1263-1274
Number of pages12
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2022


  • Ancestral diversity
  • Genetic risk score
  • Invasive glaucoma surgery
  • Million Veteran Program
  • Primary open-angle glaucoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


Dive into the research topics of 'Glaucoma Genetic Risk Scores in the Million Veteran Program'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this