How many of your fellow peers growing up as kids wore glasses? Interestingly enough that question has a lot to do with the ethnicity of the location you grew up in.
Discovering patterns is quite fascinating and if one emerges it’s the inquisitive nature of our species to delve into its details. Professor Chris Hammond of King’s College London has explored one such pattern in his research.
A spectacular finding for spectacle wearers discerns geographic locations with high susceptibility to near-sightedness or how the scholars like to refer to it: myopia. The Telegraph reveals through a Chinese National Survey that 85% Chinese students have myopia. On the other end of the spectrum Australia is a country the ranks the lowest in cases of near-sightedness in children. 1, 2, 3
Professor Hammond further details this pattern through comparing children at the age of 6 in Singapore and Australia. What do the numbers say? 30% of 6 year olds in Singapore had myopia versus 3% in Sydney. 1, 2, 3
This is where the detective work becomes interesting, observations of two genetically different populations, Asians and Caucasians rendering divergent results.
There’s more to this increasing trend of young children wearing glasses. Environmental and social factors such as urbanization and education have played a significant role in a population’s general level of myopia. 1, 2
A further look into these observations by scientific detectives links 26 genes, each play a small but significant role in myopia1. A discovery that will shed insight into understanding why the Chinese populations have a predisposition to this and what is keeping those Aussie eyes in the 20/20 zone.
Glasses have become a fashion statement in this decade, allowing individuals to express their personalities. However near-sightedness has serious implications in the wiser years of life. Professor Hammond highlights that this condition has significant risk of vision loss as one approaches middle age.
By understanding the relationships of these 26 genes researchers are working on unlocking preventative measures to counter the effects of myopia.
- Conner, S. (Feb. 2013) http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/scientific-breakthrough-in-study-of-the-genetics-of-myopia-8489016.html?utm_medium=referral&utm_source=t.co
- Moore, M. (Nov. 2011) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/8898760/85pc-of-Chinese-students-short-sighted-study-finds.html
- Pearlman, J. (Jul. 2012) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/australiaandthepacific/australia/9420285/Bounty-mutiny-descendants-have-better-eyesight.html