News | Published:

Vision in Relation to Heredity and Environment1

Nature volume 81, page 49 (08 July 1909) | Download Citation



THE Francis Galton Eugenics Laboratory at University College, London, has already done much valuable work in many directions under the supervision of Prof. Karl Pearson. With the assistance of Miss Barrington, a useful inquiry has been made into the question of the inheritance of vision and the relative influence of heredity and environment on sight. The paper is a mathematical investigation of statistics culled from a variety of sources. Of these, two communications by Dr. Adolf Steiger, of Zürich, on the corneal curvature, and the report on 1400 school children issued by the Edinburgh Charity Organisation Society, afford the best material. Other contributory material of less value is taken from reports on the refraction of London elementary-school children by Dr. A. Hugh Thompson and the Education Committee of the London County Council, and on the eyesight of 500 Glasgow school children by Dr. Rowan. Throughout, the difficulty which specially besets such statistical investigations is present in the fact that all the material is intensely selected. There is no means of supplementing it by a knowledge of the distribution of astigmatism and other errors of refraction in the community at large. Thus, in dealing with percentage statistics of the heredity factor in myopia, the authors say that “the distribution of parents of the normal and the proportion of myopes to the normal in the general population (or at any rate in the ‘universe under discussion’) must be found before any appreciation of the effect of heredity can be made.”

About this article

Publication history





    By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.

    Newsletter Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing