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Myopia and Personality: The Genes in Myopia (GEM) Personality Study


Robert van de Berg


A long-held view among the medical and broadercommunity is that people who are short-sighted (myopic persons)have distinctive personality characteristics such as introversionand conscientiousness. However, existing research onthis question is flawed, and its findings are inconsistent. Theauthors therefore aimed to determine whether myopia andpersonality are associated.


The authors examined twins recruited through theAustralian Twin Registry and a clinical-based family samplethrough a proband from a Melbourne Excimer Laser Clinic.There was no relation between family members and twinsrecruited in our study. Each individual underwent a full eyeexamination, completed a standard medical and general questionnaire,and was administered a five-factor model International Personality Item Pool (IPIP) inventory (Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, Neuroticism). Myopia was defined as worse than or equal to -0.50 (DS) spherical equivalent in the eye with the least refractive error.


Data from 633 individual twins aged 18 to 83 years (mean, 53.04 years) and 278 family members aged 11 to 90 years (mean, 49.84 years) were analyzed. Prevalence of myopia was 35.7% for twins and 47.6% for family members. Mean spherical equivalent was 0.13 DS (95% CI, 0.16) for twins and -1.13 DS (95% CI, 0.25) for family members. Correlation and regression results for personality for both sample cohorts after multivariate analysis did not support the view that myopic persons are introverted or conscientious; however, there was a significant but small association between myopia and Agreeableness (r = 0.08, P < 0.05). In multivariate analysis with age, sex, education, and the five personality factors entered as predictors, Openness was the only significant personality predictor of myopia in both samples. CONCLUSIONS. This is the first multivariate study to assess links between personality and myopia using the IPIP. The long-held view that myopic persons are introverted and conscientious may reflect intelligence-related stereotypes rather than real correlations. Furthermore, the predictive characteristic of intellect, subsumed in Openness, appeared to be representative of a previously reported link between intellective abilities (IQ) and myopia rather than personality and myopia. (Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2008;49:882– 886) DOI:10.1167/iovs.07-0930