How do Uncorrected Refractive Errors impact Academic Readiness?

| By: Susie Clark | Posted in:

Uncorrected Refractive Error And Reduced Academic Readiness In Young Children: Part One

Many of us have heard this statistic about vision and learning: 80 percent of information a child is expected to learn is presented visually. If this is true, it seems reasonable to assume that if preschoolers and school-aged children have vision problems, they will be at an academic disadvantage in the classroom or wherever learning takes place. Still, it’s helpful to have this assumption— reasonable as it may be — supported by well-conducted research. And two recent studies have done just that.

In a recent study1 published in Optometry and Vision Science, researchers investigated the relationship between uncorrected astigmatism and early academic readiness among preschool-aged children. A total of 122 children ages 3 to 5 years who were enrolled in the Philadelphia Head Start program underwent a vision screening. A review of their academic records also was performed. Vision screening results were related to two measures of early academic readiness, the teacher-reported Work Sampling System (WSS) and the parent-reported Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ). Both measures assess multiple developmental and skill factors thought to be related to academic readiness.  Children with astigmatism (defined as >0.25 D in either eye) were compared with children who had no astigmatism.

child with glassesResults revealed that the presence of astigmatism was negatively associated with multiple domains of academic readiness among the preschoolers. Children with astigmatism had significantly lower mean scores on the Personal and Social Development, Language and Literacy, and Physical Development domains of the WSS; they also scored lower on the Personal/Social, Communication, and Fine Motor domains of the ASQ. These differences between children with astigmatism and children with no astigmatism persisted after statistically adjusting for age and magnitude of spherical refractive error.

The study authors concluded that the presence of astigmatism detected in a screening setting was associated with a pattern of reduced academic readiness in multiple developmental and educational domains among at-risk preschool-aged children. Further, they said the findings of the study may help to establish the role of early vision screenings, comprehensive vision examinations, and the need for refractive correction to improve academic success in preschool children.

1Orlansky G, Wilmer J, Taub MB, Rutner D, Ciner E, Gryczynski J. Astigmatism and early academic readiness in preschool children. Optometry and Vision Science. 2015 Mar;92(3):279-85.

Read our next blog post to learn about the connection between uncorrected hyperopia and academic readiness.