Myopia: Nature vs. Nurture

Myopia, popularly known as nearsightedness, is currently estimated to affect roughly 30 percent of the American population. However, on the other side of the world, cases of nearsightedness in children has increased at an alarming rate. This study examined the prevalence of myopia among Taiwanese schoolchildren between 1983 to 2000. The researchers found out that a whopping 81 percent of 15-year olds during the study period were nearsighted.

The Genetic Factor

This 2013 post over at ScienceDaily talked about the results of study examining the link between gene expression and myopia. In a nutshell, the researchers discovered 24 new genes that increase an individual’s risk of developing nearsightedness early in life. The study utilized data from 32 studies in Australia, Asia, Europe, and the United States. Furthermore, it was found out that carriers of the myopia genes increased their risk ten times more than those who don’t.

The Environment Factor

On the other end of the spectrum, not everyone is convinced that nearsightedness is a result of genetics alone. Although latest researches may emphasize the existence of genes which increase one’s risk of myopia, an individual’s environment should also be taken into consideration. Proponents of the “nurture” part  believe that there’s more to heredity regarding the early onset of myopia in children.

The following factors may make it possible for children with the myopia genes to express the refractive error early in life:

  • the distance of the book when it is held by the child when reading
  • the amount of light used when reading
  • the frequency of time spent outdoors ( a separate study found out that children who spend more time outdoors end up less nearsighted than those who stay indoors most of the time)
  • the child’s diet
  • the mother’s diet during pregnancy

Generally, the aforementioned factors will influence the rate at which myopia will develop in children. In some cases, the myopia itself may be acquired as a child may pick up a parent’s habit of reading or style of reading.

Conclusively, it is best to practice moderation with the environmental factors that increase one’s likelihood of myopia. If you or someone you know has myopia, call us at 330-305-2200 to learn more about ways to improve your vision.

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