Preschoolers with poor vision significantly improved their test scores within six 1 weeks of consistently wearing prescription glasses, a recent study shows.
"It has been theorized that when young children have early vision problems that are undiagnosed and uncorrected, their development and performance in school are impacted," said Stuart I. Brown, chairman of ophthalmology and director of the Shiley Eye Center at the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine. "This study shows that children with vision impairment do perform below the norm in visual-motor coordination tests, and that they catch up quickly once they are given corrective lenses."
The study, published in the Archives of Ophthalmology, followed 70 children, ages 3 to 5. Half the children had normal vision and half were diagnosed with ametropia, an abnormal refractive eye condition, such as astigmatism, leading to poor vision.
The children took two standardized tests that relate directly to future school performance -the Beery-Buktenica Developmental Test of Visual-Motor Integration (VMI) and the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence Revised (WPPSI-R).
The vision-impaired children scored significantly lower on both tests, demonstrating reduced ability of the brain to coordinate the eyes with the hands, the researchers said.
The vision-impaired children were then provided with prescription glasses and monitored with the assistance of their families over six weeks to ensure that they wore their glasses consistently
Upon retesting, the VMI scores of the children with vision problems were at the same level as the scores of the children with normal eyesight. The WPPSI-R scores did not show the same dramatic improvement, but the researchers speculated that the test might not be as sensitive to changes in visual-motor integration skills tested by the VMI tool. The researchers are following the children to test whether the WPPSI-R scores change further over time.
"Amazingly, this is the first controlled study of preschool children to show the cognitive disadvantage preschool children have when they are farsighted and/or have astigmatism, as well as to show the benefit of early intervention with glasses," said study coauthor Barbara Brody, MPH, director of the Center for Community Ophthalmology at the Shiley Eye Center.
20% of Kids Who Wear Glasses Don't Need Them
Nearly one in five children wear glasses that they don't need.
Reason: Optometrists and ophthalmologists who usually treat adults may diagnose children as farsighted, but many children outgrow far-sightedness without glasses.
Best: Take children to a pediatric ophthalmologist who will be more familiar with children’s eye problems.