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Uncorrected Farsightedness Increases Risk Of Literacy Deficits In Kids

First Posted: Jan 27, 2016 04:09 PM EST

Researchers at Ohio State University found that children with uncorrected farsightedness are more likely to perform poorly on preschool literarcy tests than counterparts who receive the proper treatments.

Because moderate farsightedness, otherwise known as hyperopia, doesn't have a significant effect on general vision, many children do not know the difference and may not complain about the health issue.

"These differences are meaningful because formal learning for many children begins in the preschool years," said Dr. Marjean Kulp, professor in the College of Optometry at Ohio State University, in a news release. "In addition, other research exploring the long-term effect of early deficits in literacy has shown them to be associated with future problems in learning to read and write. This makes early detection of these problems important."

During the study, researchers recruited almost 500 and 4 and 5-year-old children. From the sample, about 250 were nearsighted and 250 had normal vision. All children in the study received the Test of Preschool Early Literacy, which includes subtests on print knowledge, definitional vocabulary and phonological awareness. None of the students wore glasses, either.

The children in the study performed worse on the tests than those without. Meanwhile, the lowest scores were in children with worse near vision or decreased depth perception. 

Researchers concluded by noting that future studies will be needed in order to determine if prescribing glasses could help in improving children's scores. 

"This study is helping answer questions about which children we need to be concerned about," Elise Ciner, a professor in the Pennsylvania College of Optometry at Salus University, said. "It doesn't have all the answers, but is beginning to shed more light on how we should approach moderate uncorrected farsightedness in this age group."

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