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People who wear glasses more likely to be intelligent, study finds

There may be some truth behind the age-old stereotype

Sabrina Barr
Wednesday 30 May 2018 11:24 BST

The idea that an individual who wears glasses is automatically perceived as being clever is a common trope that’s frequently embedded in popular culture.

However, according to a recent study, there may actually be a positive correlation between poor eyesight and higher levels of intelligence.

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh carried out an extensive study in order to explore how an individual’s hereditary traits may impact their cognitive function.

The team analysed data from 300,486 individuals aged between 16 and 102 that had been collated by the UK Biobank and the Charge and Cogent consortia.

They were able to identify 148 independent genetic loci that were associated with cognitive ability and assess whether various attributes, such as eyesight, high blood pressure and life expectancy, impacted intelligence.

The participants who wore glasses were approximately 30 per cent more likely to be intelligent, the study reported in the journal Nature Communications.

Furthermore, greater cognitive function was also linked with several healthy attributes such as longevity, a decreased risk of lung cancer and better cardiovascular and mental health.

Dr Gail Davies, genetic statistician at the University of Edinburgh and leader of the analysis, believes her team’s research could prove even more instrumental in future.

“This study, the largest genetic study of cognitive function, has identified many genetic differences that contribute to the heritability of thinking skills,” Dr Davies said.

“The discovery of shared genetic effects on health outcomes and brain structure provides a foundation for exploring the mechanisms by which these differences influence thinking skills throughout a lifetime.”

Research into the connection between genetics and intelligence has come a long way in recent years, as lead researcher Professor Ian Deary explained.

“Less than a decade ago we were searching for genes related to intelligence with about 3,000 participants, and we found almost nothing,” he said.

“Now with 100 times that number of participants, and with more than 200 scientists working together, we have discovered almost 150 genetic regions that are related to how clever people are.”

Professor Deary stated that the team need to analyse the results in further detail in order to gain a more comprehensive understanding of how cognitive function declines in old age.

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