Spending more of your life studying could cause you to lose your sight, according to UK research which found every year of education shoots up short-.sightedness.
The difference is so clear that if an average person who left school at 16 had 20/20 vision, the average university graduate would legally need glasses to drive.
Rather than the stereotype of spectacled pupils being more studious or brilliant, it is the hours spent working on tasks and at a close distance while the eyes are developing that affects sight.
Short-sightedness, or myopia, is one of the leading causes of sight disability around the world and rates are rising with speed.
By 2050 half of the world population, around 5 billion people, are expected to be short-sighted compared to roughly 1.4 billion people today,10 per cent of these will have severe myopia, which carries a risk of blindness.
In high income Asian countries like Singapore, South Korea and China which have intensive education pressures including homework at preschool level as many as 90 per cent of people are short-sighted by the time they leave school at 18.
Half of these children are already myopic by the end of primary school, compared to 10 per cent of British children.
“Our study provides strong evidence that length of time spent in education is a causal risk factor for myopia.
“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
information on participants education and sight, and also looked at genetic markers which are associated with short-sightedness and also genes more common in people who stay longer in education.
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In the UK and elsewhere, towards more intensive early years education raises the length of time over which short-sightedness can become severe and more time outdoors should be prioritised.