“About 50 years ago myopia was thought to be almost completely determined by genetics,” said Alireza Mirshahi, a researcher and ophthalmologist at the University. “We see that genetic factors do play a role, but the role of environmental factors is much more important.” A recent, 2009 study found that in the U.S., myopia had gone from affecting 25% of the population to 41% over the past four decades — one of many hints that genetics were not the only reason it was occurring.
The researchers in the new study found that each year of schooling further increased a person’s risk of developing myopia. Those participants who had completed nine years of school experienced a 27% chance of myopia, while those who had 13 years of education and had a 50% chance.
Mirshahi wants to stress that there is only an association between the two — it is not a sign that “someone who is not myopic is bad at school,” as he says. Previous research seems to suggest that greater levels of outdoor exercise can help prevent nearsightedness, though the full reasons for the correlation remain unclear.