If you wear glasses, you may well be smarter than the average person.
A new study published in the journal Nature Communications has found that needing to wear glasses is associated with higher levels of intelligence.
In the study, the largest of its kind ever conducted, researchers from the University of Edinburgh analyzed cognitive and genetic data from more than 300,000 people aged between 16 and 102 that had been gathered by the UK Biobank and the Charge and Cogent consortia.
Their analysis found “significant genetic overlap between general cognitive function, reaction time, and many health variables including eyesight, hypertension and longevity.”
Specifically, people who were more intelligent were almost 30 percent more likely to have genes which might indicate they would need to wear glasses.
While being more intelligent may be linked to poor eyesight, it is also connected with a lot of positive health benefits.
Researchers found negative correlations between cognitive function and a number of health problems, including angina, lung cancer and depression.
Of course, it is important to remember that these are all simply correlations, not conclusive links, and it is worth noting that what constitutes intelligence is subjective and can be difficult, if not impossible, to measure.
Further, linking intelligence to DNA can quickly lead to bogus “race science.”
Forget genetics though — there is plenty of empirical evidence that wearing glasses, whether you need them or not, makes people think you are more intelligent.
A number of studies have found people who wear glasses are perceived as smarter, more dependable, industrious and honest.
Which is why a lot of defense lawyers get their clients to wear glasses at trial.
“Glasses soften their appearance so that they don’t look capable of committing a crime,” lawyer Harvey Slovis told New York magazine. “I’ve tried cases where there’s been a tremendous amount of evidence, but my client wore glasses and got acquitted. The glasses create a kind of unspoken nerd defense.”
It is not just defense lawyers who use glasses as a stage prop.
Glasses are regularly used as shorthand in pop culture to connote that the wearer is intelligent.
In the case of women, there is also a well-worn “ugly girl who removes her glasses and is revealed to be beautiful” trope.
While the US has not changed much when it comes to its suspicion of intellectuals, the symbolism of glasses has begun to shift.
Prescription-less glasses have become something of a fashion accessory, worn by people who want to look sophisticated or cool.
Not everyone is impressed though — GQ called wearing fake glasses “bottom-of-the-barrel hipster behavior.”
However, that has not stopped a lot of celebrities from enthusiastically scraping the bottom of that barrel.
Justin Bieber is just one high-profile fan of fashion glasses.
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