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Push Up Those Frames, But Don’t Fret - You May Be Brainy

November 4, 1987

CHICAGO (AP) _ Two Israeli doctors say there’s a link between nearsightedness and high intelligence, but theories abound on whether it is mostly acquired or genetic.

The doctors tested 157,748 Israeli military recruits, ages 17 to 19, and discovered a link between myopia and high IQs and years of education.

The ″cause and effect relationship ... is not clear,″ wrote Drs. Mordechai Rosner and Michael Belkin. ″Further research is needed to to clarify the nature of this relationship.″

The researchers, writing in the current issue of the American Medical Association’s Archives of Ophthalmology, said 15.8 percent, or 24,924, of the recruits were myopic in both eyes, or unable to see long distances.

The entire study group took standard verbal and written exams and the doctors found:

-Among the recruits who had an IQ of 128 or higher, 27.3 percent were nearsighted. An IQ of 100 is average.

-Only 8 percent with an IQ of 80 or below were nearsighted.

-The percentage of myopic recruits increased with the number of years of education, but 23.3 percent of the nearsighted males who had completed only nine years of education had an IQ of 128 or higher.

Rosner and Belkin of the Sheba Medical Center at the University of Tel Aviv said many theories could account for the achievements of nearsighted males, including genetics.

″And that the preference of persons with myopia to work at short distance is the cause of their higher ... achievement rather than the effect,″ they wrote.

Or, people who are smart may read more than less intelligent people, and excessive reading may tire the eyes and fuel myopia, Rosner and Belkin said.

The doctors did not comment on how the study’s findings would apply to females.

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