Are people who wear glasses really smarter?

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It’s a common stereotype: people who wear glasses are ‘nerds’ and are perceived brighter than those without spectacles. Now, research has shown that this has a kernel of truth and that those who wear glasses are indeed more intelligent.

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh found significant links between intelligence and myopia, while they conducted a large genetic study of cognitive function. This study – published in the Nature Communications journal – analysed genetic data from more than 300,000 people aged between 16 and 102, who had taken part in studies in Australia, Europe and North America.

These people conducted various thinking tests and the results combined gave a general cognitive ability score. Those who scored high in the cognitive tests, were 30 per cent more likely to need glasses, compared to those who scored poorly.

Researchers couldn’t conclude why there’s a correlation between poor eyesight and intelligence – this wasn’t part of the research. However, it is true that wearing glasses – whether you actually need these or not – makes that people perceive you as smarter. Hence why lawyers recommend their clients to wear spectacles in court.

Earlier research
It isn’t the first time researchers found a link between myopia and intelligence. Research published in The Lancet in 1988 studied almost 6,000 18-year-old men with poor eyesight and almost 10,000 men with good eyesight. Those with myopia got higher test scores and had overall higher educational levels – which is in line with another recent study that shows that the higher your education, the poorer your eyesight. With every year you spend in class, your eye sight reduces on average with -0.27 dioptre – meaning that someone who spent 17 years at school, has on average -1 dioptre poorer eyesight than someone who spent 12 years at school. 

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