Myopia is becoming a common issue in this day and age, and researchers found that older siblings are more likely to have vision problems, which could be highly related to the behavior of their parents.
- Myopia rates have went from 20% to 50% in the United States
- The numbers are up to 90% in certain parts of Asia, such as India or China
- The study was conducted on 90,000 adults, between 40-69 years old
- Older siblings have 10% increased risk of myopia, and 20% better chances of developing severe myopia
If stereotypes follow, older children are often better organized and perhaps more academically achieved than their younger brothers and sisters. This might be due to the fact that parents often kick into a different mode of parenting for their first child by wanting to shower them with everything. Every mother and father wants their kid to achieve greatness, and even be better than them.
This means extensive investment in their education. And, in some parts, it might also mean a lot of pressure to become academically acclaimed.
Researchers at the Cardiff University surveyed data from the British Biobank, of over 90,000 adults between the ages of 40 and 69 years old, who underwent an eye exam. They studied the relationship between firstborns and their higher tendency to be nearsighted. Previous surveys suggested that older siblings are commonly lighter when they are born, and that resulted in certain problems later on.
However, lack of evidence to back that theory have made the possibility null.
According to lead author of this particular study, Jeremy Guggenheim, they found that the link between myopia (commonly known as nearsightedness) and firstborns is related to the prolonged time they spend on education. Reading, be it a book, tablet or just chalkboards affects their eyesight. And, apparently, parental pressure enhances that issue.
Guggenheim suggests that older siblings dedicate more time to their studies and spend less time outdoors. This increases their chance of developing myopia by 10%, and by 20% to become severely myopic. For the second child, parents are generally more relaxed as they have already been through the process once before. While that certainly does not mean neglect, it does hint to a more lenient type of parenting.
Myopia is a worryingly common problem today. In the United States, it’s said that rates of nearsightedness have risen from 20% to 50%, and it’s up to an incredibly unfortunate 90% in southern Asia. The effect is relatively small and virtually harmless if it’s diagnosed. However, severe myopia is a problem that presents with several health risks.
Researchers are now looking into the possibility of reducing myopia rates by encouraging children to spend more time outdoors. Recent studies from China have shown that the numbers drop when children dedicate at least 40 minutes per day to activities outside.
Image source: spectacleshoppe.ca