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Denis Plotnikov, Nuala A. Sheehan, Cathy Williams, Denize Atan, Jeremy A. Guggenheim, for the UK Biobank Eye and Vision Consortium; Hyperopia Is Not Causally Associated With a Major Deficit in Educational Attainment. Trans. Vis. Sci. Tech. 2021;10(12):34. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/tvst.10.12.34.
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Hyperopia (farsightedness) has been associated with a deficit in children's educational attainment in some studies. We aimed to investigate the causality of the relationship between refractive error and educational attainment.
Mendelian randomization (MR) analysis in 74,463 UK Biobank participants was used to estimate the causal effect of refractive error on years spent in full-time education, which was taken as a measure of educational attainment. A polygenic score for refractive error derived from 129 genetic variants was used as the instrumental variable. Both linear and nonlinear (allowing for a nonlinear relationship between refractive error and educational attainment) MR analyses were performed.
Assuming a linear relationship between refractive error and educational attainment, the causal effect of refractive error on years spent in full-time education was estimated as −0.01 yr/D (95% confidence interval, −0.04 to +0.02; P = 0.52), suggesting minimal evidence for a non-zero causal effect. Nonlinear MR supported the hypothesis of the nonlinearity of the relationship (I2 = 80.3%; Cochran's Q = 28.2; P = 8.8e-05) but did not suggest that hyperopia was associated with a major deficit in years spent in education.
This work suggested that the causal relationship between refractive error and educational attainment was nonlinear but found no evidence that moderate hyperopia caused a major deficit in educational attainment. Importantly, however, because statistical power was limited and some participants with moderate hyperopia would have worn spectacles as children, modest adverse effects may have gone undetected.
These findings suggest that moderate hyperopia does not cause a major deficit in educational attainment.
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