Study: Education Level Correlates With Nearsightedness

A new study from Germany, published in Opthalmology, has found that the more education a person obtains, the more likely they are to be nearsighted.

According to the research out of Johannes Gutenberg University, 4,658 people between the ages of 35-74 were given eye exams.  Of those that were found to be nearsighted, 53% were college graduates, and 35% of high school and vocational school grads admitted to not being able to see things clearly until they were held closer to their eyes.

Researchers also found that for every year of education, the nearsightedness got worse.  Karen Hopkin for Scientific American writes that participants who had 13 years of education were found to be more nearsighted than those who did not go on after elementary school.

Although 45 genetic markers were studied, these had less influence on the level of nearsightedness than education levels did, writes Jesse Singal for New York Magazine.

Researchers suggested encouraging students to not spend more than 30 hours per week doing “up-close activities” like reading, watching TV, or using the computer.  Sunlight has also been proven to slow the effects of nearsightedness.

“Since students appear to be at a higher risk for nearsightedness, it makes sense to encourage them to spend more time outdoors as a precaution,” lead researcher Alireza Mirshahi said in a release.

Of the participants, 24% did not have a high school education.

There is research that suggests that children who spend more time outside – be it at home or with longer recess periods or participation in school sports – are less likely to develop myopia, according to website Myopia Prevention.

The amount of reading or near work a person does is not predictive of whether they will become myopic. Native Eskimo populations, spending many months of the year in small enclosed structures, working with tools and other close vision tasks, do not develop myopia. However, their children develop high rates of myopia when sent to schools. The eye determines where correct focus is located while it is growing by the clarity of peripheral (side) vision, not central vision. People who spend more time outdoors, even if they have myopic parents and even if they read a lot, are less likely to become myopic.

According to the website’s statistics, 42% of Americans between the ages of 12-54 have myopia, and that figure has risen by 66% in the last 30 years. In some parts of Asia, myopia rates among teenager girls are as high as 80%, and a full 1 billion people worldwide now suffer from myopia.

In some parts of Asia, 80% of the girls in high school are myopic. In the United States, myopia has increased 66% in thirty years so that now 42% of people aged 12-54 are myopic. It has become an issue of monumental importance affecting over a billion people around the world and it is getting worse.