Bounty mutiny descendants have low rates of myopia: study

July 20, 2012

Descendants of a British mutiny who have lived for generations in the Pacific have among the lowest rates of myopia in the world, according to an Australian study.

The study examined among the descendants of the Bounty sailors and their Polynesian wives who settled on Pitcairn Island after the mutiny in 1789 and who then moved to Norfolk Island off Australia's east coast.

"One component of the study has found the prevalence of myopia (near-sightedness) on Norfolk Island is lower than on mainland Australia," said University of Western Australia academic David Mackey.

"But there was a two-fold higher prevalence of myopia in people without Pitcairn ancestry.

"We found the rate of Pitcairn group myopia is approximately one-half that of the Australian population and as a result would be ranked among one of the lowest rates in the world."

Pitcairn was settled in 1789 by mutineers from the British naval ship the Bounty, who famously set their captain William Bligh adrift in the South Pacific.

Many of the families of the mutineers moved from Pitcairn, a five-square-kilometre island midway between New Zealand and Chile, to the larger Norfolk Island in 1856.

Mackey, who is managing director of the Lions Eye Institute which carried out the study, said Norfolk Island was unique because almost half the islanders could trace their ancestry back to the original Pitcairn population of just nine British mutineers, 12 Tahitian women and six Tahitian men.

He said nearly 800 of the island's 1,200 inhabitants took part in the study.

The researchers were unable to conclude why the levels of myopia were different but said further research may allow the identification of genes that differ between Bounty descendants and other islanders, given they had similar exposure to sunlight.

A lack of sunlight is thought to be related to , with exposure to the sun's rays believed to stimulate production of the , which in turn stops the from growing elongated and distorting the focus of light entering the eye.

Explore further: New hope for migraine sufferers: Female gene link identified

Related Stories

Recommended for you

A pocket-sized retina camera, no dilating required

March 20, 2017

It's the part of the eye exam everyone hates: the pupil-dilating eye drops. The drops work by opening the pupil and preventing the iris from constricting in response to light and are often used for routine examination and ...

Scientists deploy CRISPR to preserve photoreceptors in mice

March 14, 2017

Silencing a gene called Nrl in mice prevents the loss of cells from degenerative diseases of the retina, according to a new study. The findings could lead to novel therapies for preventing vision loss from human diseases ...

New help for that bane of middle-age: blurry close-up vision

February 28, 2017

Squinting while texting? Always losing your reading glasses? An eye implant that takes about 10 minutes to put in place is the newest in a list of surgical repairs for the blurry close-up vision that is a bane of middle age. ...

Vitamin B3 prevents glaucoma in laboratory mice

February 16, 2017

In mice genetically predisposed to glaucoma, vitamin B3 added to drinking water is effective at preventing the disease, a research team led by Jackson Laboratory Professor and Howard Hughes Medical Investigator Simon W.M. ...

GARP2 accelerates retinal degeneration in a mouse model

February 15, 2017

In the retina of the eye, rod and cone cells turn light into electrical signals, the first step toward human vision. University of Alabama at Birmingham researchers are studying rod cell proteins GARP1 and GARP2 to learn ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.