Research examines genetics of myopia

Scientists have identified five genes that increase the risk of short-sightedness the longer a child stays in school

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Pixabay/Mohamed Hassan

Researchers from Cardiff University have described five genetic variants that increase the risk of myopia the longer a person stays in school.

The study, which was published in PLOS Genetics, analysed genetic and health data from 340,000 participants with European ancestry.

They identified genes that make a person more vulnerable to becoming myopic in combination with intensive schooling.

The five genetic variants progressively increased the risk of becoming short-sighted the longer an individual’s education continued, particularly for people who obtained a university education.

Three of the variants identified by the researchers were previously unknown, while two had been identified in studies of East Asian populations.

Study lead, Jeremy Guggenheim, highlights that the research builds on previous work linking education and myopia.

“The new study identifies five genes associated with myopia development whose effects are amplified by additional years spent in education,” he said.

The researchers noted that while the study provides insight on the biological pathways that cause myopia, further research is needed to understand how these variables interact with lifestyle factors to cause the condition.