Reading causes myopia

August 4, 2008

Reading may be a risk factor for childhood myopia, according to a study published in the August 2008 issue of the British Journal of Ophthalmology.

Reading may be a risk factor for childhood myopia, according to a study published in the August 2008 issue of the British Journal of Ophthalmology.

Surgeon Cathy Williams of the Centre for Child and Adolescent Health, Bristol Eye Hospital, UK and colleagues aggregated and evaluated data gathered from a birth cohort study and results of tests including school Standardised Assessment Tests (SATS), the Wescher Objective Reading Dimension (WORD) test, verbal and non-verbal IQ tests with likelihood of being myopic (possessing spherical autorefraction of -1.50 D) and parental report of enthusiasm for reading of children aged 7 and 10 years at baseline (n=6871).

At the age of seven, 1.5% of the children were classified "likely to be myopic" by age 10. After adjusting for myopic parents and ethnicity, risk factors for inclusion in this group included good results from reading, maths, WORD and verbal IQ tests, but the single strongest factor predicting likelihood of myopia was whether the child was reported to enjoy reading: children who did so were four times as likely to develop myopia than children who did not enjoy reading.

The researchers concluded that it is likely that reading, or factors associated with reading, play a role in the development of myopia.