Archives for glasses



Playing the Nerd Card: A New Marketplace Podcast

Our latest Freakonomics Radio on Marketplace podcast is called “Playing the Nerd Card.”

(You can download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, listen via the media player above, or read the transcript below.)

It’s about the rise in basketball players (and other athletes) showing up at press conferences wearing the kind of eyeglasses usually associated with Steve Urkel and Buddy Holly. Among the practitioners: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, and Robert Griffin III.

What’s going on here? Has the rate of myopia exploded, even among premier athletes?

We talk to Susan Vitale, a research epidemiologist with the NIH’s National Eye Institute, who worked on a large study on myopia in the U.S. There has indeed been a huge spike in recent decades, and it’s especially pronounced among blacks. Read More »



Evidence That Myopia Has a Strong Environmental Cause

Time reports on a new study on why Asians have a higher rate of nearsightedness:

It has long been thought that nearsightedness is mostly a hereditary problem, but researchers led by Ian Morgan of Australian National University say the data suggest that environment has a lot more to do with it.

Reporting in the journal Lancet, the authors note that up to 90% of young adults in major East Asian countries, including China, Taiwan, Japan, Singapore and South Korea, are nearsighted. The overall rate of myopia in the U.K., by contrast, is about 20% to 30%.

Read More »



Is Eyeglass Recycling a Waste of Money?

Recycling your old eyeglasses may make you feel better, but, in Bloomberg View, Virginia Postrel argues that it’s actually a waste of money.  Postrel tracks the journey from eyeglass donation box to final destination — glasses are first shipped to their destination, where they’re sorted and evaluated for usefulness (only 7 per cent of donations are actually useable).  The numbers aren’t pretty. Read More »



It’s Hard to Learn if You Can’t See the Blackboard

Our most recent podcast is about a pair of economists giving out free eye glasses to kids in China. Between 10 and 15 percent of kids needed glasses; but of those, only two percent had them. Turns out, this is a problem in New York City too. Read More »



Smarter Kids at 10 Bucks a Pop

Our latest episode of Freakonomics Radio is about education reform — sort of. Most ed reform addresses the supply side of the equation. That is, what should teachers and schools be doing differently? But this story is about the demand side, the students themselves. What if there were a cheap, quick, and simple way to lift some students’ grades? Read More »