Researchers highlight link between length of study and myopia

A new study found an increase in myopic refractive error of -0.27 dioptres for every additional year spent in education

University students

Researchers have found that spending more time in education is linked to higher levels of myopia.

The University of Bristol and Cardiff University found that for every additional year spent in education, there was an increase in myopic refractive error of -0.27 dioptres.

Findings suggest that a UK university graduate with 17 years in education would, on average, be one dioptre more myopic than someone who left school at 16 with 12 years of education, researchers explained.

Consultant senior lecturer in ophthalmology at the University of Bristol, Dr Denize Atan, said: “Our study provides strong evidence that length of time spent in education is a causal risk factor for myopia.”

Dr Atan explained that with the rise in global prevalence of myopia and the economic burden of visual loss, the findings of the study have implications for educational practices.

“Axial eye growth happens mainly during school years and since levels of myopia tend to even out in adulthood, any interventions to stop or prevent myopia need to be given in childhood,” she said.

“Policymakers should be aware that the educational practices used to teach children and to promote personal and economic health may have the unintended consequence of causing increasing levels of myopia and later visual disability as a result,” the honorary consultant in neuro-ophthalmology at Bristol Eye Hospital added. 

Dr Atan co-led the research with Professor Jez Guggenheim from Cardiff University’s school of optometry and vision sciences.

During the study, the research team used Mendelian randomisation, which was applied to a large, population cohort, the UK Biobank. 

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