Hey, Four-Eyes! You're No Geek!
Credit: © Tomasz Trojanowksi/Dreamstime
Credit: © Tomasz Trojanowksi/Dreamstime

The popular notion that people who wear glasses are geeks or nerds doesn't hold up under scrutiny.

A new Australian study looked for an association between introversion (bashfulness or being self-absorbed) and people who are near-sighted, an eye condition that affects one in five people in the United States, according to ophthalmologist Arun Verma of the Daljit Singh Eye Hospital in India.

Researcher Paul Baird and his colleagues studied 633 twins and a comparative group of 278 family members over a four-year period. Subjects were assessed by the psychologists for the major personality factors — openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness and neuroticism.

The results, detailed in the March issue of the journal Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, revealed no statistical link between myopia and introversion, but a small association between myopia and agreeableness.

"We have literally busted the myth that people who wear glasses are introverted or have particular personality characteristics. They are more likely to be agreeable and open, rather than closed and introverted," said Baird, of the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Eye Research Australia.

The personality focus provides a key element in a series of studies to identify factors involved in myopia. The other elements investigated were environmental and genetic factors.

Near-sighted people have difficulty seeing distant objects, making it difficult to engage in everyday activities such as driving and watching television.

The results have important social and preventative implications.

"Good eye care is really important, but unfortunately there are not always good associations with wearing glasses,” says Baird. “This [research] shows that people, particularly children, should not avoid or delay wearing glasses due to preconceived ideas about what it would imply about their personalities."

The research was supported by the Australian federal government, Joan and Peter Clemenger Trust and various other trusts and foundations.