Woman smiling wearing glasses

Why first-born children are nearsighted

Life isn’t always fair and it certainly isn’t equal. If you want things to be equally apportioned in this world then you’ll live a life of perpetual quiet desperation. Inequality and difference abound and nowhere are they more keenly felt than between siblings and now that familial fire will burn even brighter because new research has found that first-born children are more likely to be nearsighted.

The study involved data drawn from 89,000 participants aged 40-69 who were part of the UK Biobank. The subjects had a vision assessment and no history of eye disorders. The results showed that first-borns were 10 per cent more likely than their siblings to have myopia (nearsightedness) and 20 per cent more likely to have severe myopia.

The results showed that first-borns were 10 per cent more likely than their siblings to have myopia (nearsightedness) and 20 per cent more likely to have severe myopia.

The researchers then tried to control for lifestyle factors that might suggest why first-borns showed this tendency. They found that when they statistically removed two measures of educational exposure from the results the relationship between myopia and first-borns disappeared. This suggests that it is educational differences that might be the cause.

The educational measures used were highest educational qualification and age at completion of full-time education. It might be that these measures don’t fully capture the educational experience and the study did not include any information on how much time the children spent outdoors (a known risk factor for myopia).

Nevertheless, the researchers believe that the results show that parental in a first-born’s education might drive the difference in eyesight outcomes. No doubt second and third-borns will be telling first-borns that they could see that one coming.

Terry Robson

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.

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