Myopia is an Adaptive Characteristic of Vision: Not a Disease or Defect

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Biological Psychology | Cognition and Perception | Comparative and Evolutionary Physiology | Evolution | Eye Diseases | Ophthalmology


This paper proposes that myopia (nearsightedness) is an adaptive characteristic of human vision. Most theories of the evolution of vision assume myopia is a disease or defect that would have resulted in decreased reproductive fitness in the absence of modern corrective lenses. In contrast, the present paper argues that myopic individuals may have played important roles in hunter-gatherer groups such as making tools and weapons, and identifying medicinal plants, contributing to individual and group survival. This idea is called the “adaptive myopia hypothesis.” Evidence favoring this hypothesis is reviewed in the context of the metatheory of evolutionary psychology.


"Review of General Psychology" is the journal of Division 1 (General Psychology) of the American Psychological Association. The peer-reviewed journal specializes in articles that integrate research from a variety of the traditional subdisciplines of psychology.

Richard Wielkiewicz’s article is written from an evolutionary psychology perspective. It contradicts the prevailing view that myopia (poor vision at a distance and excellent vision for close objects) would have been a fatal defect in the Stone Age preventing successful hunting. Instead, the paper argues that individuals with myopia could have contributed to group survival by making the tools needed for hunting, identifying medicinal plants, and tracking prey. Thus, individuals with myopia could have made essential contributions to group survival.

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