Uncorrected Hyperopia Hurts Preschool Literacy

A study conducted by the National Eye Institute and published on January 27, 2016 in Ophthalmology found that children with moderate (3 to 6 diopters) to high uncorrected hyperopia did significantly worse on preschool early literacy tests than their normal-vision peers.

The study involved 492 children, 244 hyperopes and 248 emmetropes, and adjusted for age, ethnicity and parent education. Children with high hyperopia (> 6 diopters) had the largest deficits in literacy scores.

“Preschool children with moderate hyperopia and decreased near vision may benefit from referral for assessment of early literacy skills,” said Elise Ciner, O.D., professor at the Pennsylvania College of Optometry at Salus University in Philadelphia, and co-investigator of the study. “Educational interventions for children with early deficits can lead to greater educational achievement in later years.”

Accompanying the study is an editorial by Scott R. Lambert, M.D., of the Emory Eye Center, who asks, based on this new information, “Should Glasses Be Prescribed for All Children with Moderate Hyperopia?”

“While there is no consensus regarding the treatment of moderate hyperopia without esotropia or reduced visual acuity,” said Dr. Catherine Chiarelli of the Vision Institute of Canada, “this study emphasizes the importance of comprehensive eye examinations for preschoolers – including cycloplegic refraction and evaluation of visual efficiency skills. Simple visual acuity screening is inadequate in identifying vision problems that can affect academic performance.”

Further Information: https://nei.nih.gov/news/pressrelease/farsightedness_linked_literacy_deficits

Editorial: http://www.aaojournal.org/pb/assets/raw/Health%20Advance/journals/ophtha/ophtha_9041.pdf

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