Are people with poor eyesight more intelligent?

Take a moment to imagine a high-school ‘nerd’ or a mad scientist. I’m willing to bet that you’re thinking of someone with thick rimmed glasses (plus some bad fashion sense). It’s a geek cliché that refuses to go away. But hold on for a minute, because there may be more to it than meets the eye.

It seems as though there is a link between myopia, or near-sightedness, and IQ! There have been a lot of research studies that have found a correlation between the myopia and high IQ in the Western World: from the USA to Denmark, Singapore, the Czech Republic, New Zealand, and Israel. Even after factoring out the educational levels of the parents, years spent in education, and social status, myopia is more present in students with high grades than those who score average to lower grades.

You may think that that is because of all the reading that supposed nerds may be doing. Some research (such as this one) supports that idea, while others dispute it. It has been observed that myopia goes hand in hand with high nonverbal IQ, reading more books per week, and higher academic performance. Whether myopia is a cause for a higher IQ or vice versa is still very much unknown, but some think that the two are connected due to genes that affect both brain size (which has been correlated with IQ as well) and eyeball size.

In truth, the reason brainiacs may be sporting glasses is probably most likely a result of both genetic and upbringing factors. So while it would still be a great idea to read as many books as possible, I can’t guarantee it won’t affect your eyesight or significantly improve your IQ.

Question from Hannah Tucker via Facebook

Answer by Dorothée Grevers

Article by Dorothée Grevers

September 27, 2013

Holding a BSc in Pre-Med and currently working on a BA in Philosophy, Dorothée is a keen proponent of both the sciences and arts as she tries to make it as a scientist and writer. At Guru she combines them both while spending the rest of her time obsessing about brains, challenging the norm at Sensa Nostra in Berlin, and figuring out the perfect, minimal polyphasic sleep schedule.

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