Microscopy & Microtechniques

  • Are People Who Wear Glasses Smarter?

Are People Who Wear Glasses Smarter?

Jun 26 2018 Read 2121 Times

It's no secret that glasses go hand-in-hand with a general assumption of intelligence. Now, a major study from the University of Edinburgh has settled this age-old stereotype and confirmed that wearing glasses does indicate higher cognitive ability.

More than simply a pop culture label, the link between glasses and intelligence has gained serious traction after researchers from the University of Edinburgh found that people with higher levels of intelligence are 30% more likely to possess genes linked to poor eyesight.

The health benefits of wearing glasses

The study, which was part of a broader project exploring how inherited genes affect general intelligence, analysed cognitive and genetic data sourced from over 300,000 people, the youngest aged 16 and the oldest 102.

The findings were published in the journal Nature Communications, with researchers asserting they reveal a “significant genetic overlap between general cognitive function, reaction time, and many health variables including eyesight, hypertension, and longevity”.

Specifically, the team highlighted the fact that brainier participants were almost 30% more likely to wear glasses, or possess genes indicating poor eyesight. This means that despite poor eyesight, people that wear glasses are more likely to be more intelligent. As well as higher levels of intelligence the study also explored the health benefits of poor eyesight, with researchers finding negative correlations between high cognitive function and health issues like lung cancer, depression and angina.

The "nerd defence"

As well as exploring the link between glasses and intelligence, the study built on empirical evidence suggesting that wearing glasses correlates with positive traits like honesty, industriousness and reliability. As a result, many defence lawyers often ask clients to wear glasses when appearing in court.

Lawyer Harvey Slovis explains, “Glasses soften their appearance so that they don’t look capable of committing a crime. I’ve tried cases where there’s been a tremendous amount of evidence, but my client wore glasses and got acquitted. The glasses create a kind of unspoken nerd defence.”

Of course, while the study did reveal fascinating insight into a longstanding stereotype, it's important to remember that the findings are simply correlations, not conclusive evidence. Pinpointing links between intelligence and DNA can be incredibly complex, not to mention subjective.

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