Beyond genetics, activities such as reading could have a greater effect on eyesight than previously thought, study says

The more years you spend in school, the more likely you're going to need glasses, according to a German study published in Ophthalmology, the journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

More than half of college graduates have myopia, or nearsightedness, researchers found, compared to a third of people who finished high school. Among people who never progressed to high school, only a quarter were myopic.

Learn More: Nearsightedness (Myopia)

Researchers also found vision got worse for each year spent studying, and that length of education proved to be a greater factor in nearsightedness than genetics.

The possible culprits: being cooped up indoors and doing work up close, such as reading or working on a computer. Some view these factors as the reason nearsightedness has become alarmingly common in recent years across the globe. In the United States, myopia now affects about 42 percent of the population. When severe, nearsightedness increases the risk of retinal detachment, premature cataracts and glaucoma.

To help prevent myopia, researchers advise students to get outside. Several studies of children from around the world show that spending time outdoors results in better vision.

"Since students appear to be at a higher risk of nearsightedness, it makes sense to encourage them to spend more time outdoors as a precaution," said Alireza Mirshahi, M.D., lead author of the study.

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