In May 2019 researchers from Israel published the results of their study to assess the association between studying in different educational systems and the incidence and severity of myopia in Jewish male adolescents in Israel. A total of 22,823 male individuals, aged 17-18 years, were involved in the study, and underwent a medical examination and a visual acuity assessment. The individuals had all studied in 1 of 3 Israeli educational systems: secular, Orthodox or ultra-Orthodox. The ultra-Orthodox system and, to a lesser extent, the Orthodox system involves intensive reading starting in early childhood compared with the secular system. Results showed that 1,871/2,276 (82%) adolescents in the ultra-Orthodox educational system suffered from near/shortsightedness, compared with 1,604/3,189 (50%) in the Orthodox educational system and 5,155/17,358 (30%) in the secular educational system. A higher proportion of adolescents in the ultra-Orthodox educational system, followed by those in the Orthodox educational system were therefore more like to experience near/shortsightedness than those in the secular educational system. This association was still apparent after adjustment for confounders such as age, country of origin, socioeconomic status, years of education, and body mass index. In addition, the adolescents in the ultra-Orthodox educational system and to a lesser extent adolescents in the Orthodox educational system had a greater severity of near/shortsightedness, ie were more near/shortsighted, when compared with adolescents in the secular educational system. The researchers therefore concluded that study styles which involve intensive reading and other close-work activities play a role in the development of near/shortsightedness.
Bez D et al. Association Between Type of Educational System and Prevalence and Severity of Myopia Among Male Adolescents in Israel. JAMA Ophthalmol. 2019 May 30. [Epub ahead of print]