Are People Who Wear Glasses Smarter?

Within recent years, glasses have held a significant place in the fashion world and maintain their desirability as styles change. This is a major change from the time when wearing glasses meant you would be called “four eyes” by bullies. Using Steve Urkel as an example, you were considered a nerdy bookworm for wearing a mandatory aid on your face. This makes me wonder where did the stereotype of wearing glasses and higher intelligence come from? Apparently near-sighted folks started wearing glasses back in the 1200s, but if they have been around for so long is there truth to the association between higher intelligence and wearing glasses? My hypothesis and alternative hypothesis are that people who require glasses have higher intelligence. The null hypothesis is that there is not a connection between needing glasses and having high intelligence.



Researchers at the University Medical Center in Germany performed an observational study on 4,600 Germans between the ages of 35 and 74. Some of these participants had myopia, which is the scientific term for near-sightedness. What they found was that 53 percent of college graduates had the eye condition and those with more education were more myopic. The takeaway from that is that people who need glasses are more likely to continue onto higher education. To take this further would mean that more education means higher intelligence. A publication states that longitudinal studies show that brighter students become more educated and more educated students are brighter. At that point, I began to question if there could be reverse causation. I tried to find research about poor eyesight being caused by reading, but I could not find any. If there was sufficient research that showed the more that a person reads, the worse eyesight they have then we could make a case for reverse causation as a possibility. That would be due to the fact that school required reading thus more schooling should mean more reading.

It would be difficult to set up an experiment on this study, because there are many confounding variables. People can be intelligent genetically, it could depend on the topic being discussed, intelligence could depend on upbringing, and there are many different ways to view intelligence. If there was an experiment where some took a test while wearing glasses and some took the test who did not need glasses many other things would have to be considered. In conclusion, I do not think a reasonable person should go out and purchase expensive glasses that they do not need in an effort to make themselves more intelligent. I do not think that would make sense, but perhaps there is a link between already having poor eyesight and having higher intelligence.


1 thought on “Are People Who Wear Glasses Smarter?

  1. Patrick Winch

    I’ve been wearing glasses since age 5, and the one thing I can say is that I hate wearing glasses. It has always kind of bothered me when people say they wish they had glasses, because I would do anything to get rid of them. In addition to that, I’ve always felt like people wanted to wear glasses just to look smarter. That idea may sound crazy, but I found this article which explained the psychology behind that theory.

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