Nothing says “overeducated egghead” like a pair of coke-bottle glasses. But even clichés sometimes hit the nerd on the head. Because a new study finds that nearsightedness is linked to the number of years spent in school. The findings can be viewed in the journal Ophthalmology. [Alireza Mirshahi et al, Myopia and Level of Education]
In the past century, the prevalence of myopia—science-speak for being able to see only what’s right in front of you—has been on the rise. So much so that it can’t all be blamed on geeky genes.
To nail down the potential environmental influences, researchers focused on the classroom. They gave eye exams to nearly 5000 German subjects in a project called the Gutenberg Health Study.
The researchers found that individuals with 13 years of education were more myopic than those who didn’t get past primary school. And more than half of those with a university degree could use a set of specs, compared to less than a quarter of the folks who quit after high school or secondary school.
All that learning takes a lot of reading. Which itself is associated with nearsightedness. Or the nearsighted may gravitate toward pursuits easier to see—like hitting the books. Either way, seems that being a good student may not require great pupils.