Saturday, March 22, 2014

Glasses May Improve Reading Speed in Far-Sighted Children

Eye glasses and reading speed
It is something that is obvious to most people: vision problems interfere with reading.  However, the interaction of vision and reading is a frequently studied problem.  The latest study in this area was published in the journal Optometry & Vision Science.

The study looked at a group of 9- to 10-year old children with hyperopia (far-sightedness) and compared their reading ability with and without glasses that corrected the vision problem.  

The researchers, who were a group of ophthalmologists from the Department of Ophthalmology and the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics of a major university in Amsterdam, found that reading scores improved by 13% when the vision problem was corrected.  They also noted that even low amounts of uncorrected hyperopia can negatively influence reading performance.

Optometric researchers have long identified the learning problems that that can result even from moderate to low uncorrected hyperopia.  For those interested in the connection between hyperopia and a variety of learning issues, this study is a must read, as it provides many citations of literature supporting the association between hyperopia and learning issues problems.

According to one review of the study, these learning problems include

lower educational test scores, lesser emergent literacy scores, poorer reading progress, underachievement in reading, lower academic test scores, and an association with delays on visuoperceptual, cognitive, motor, and attention tests.

The researchers concluded that  correction of hyperopia may increase speed of reading (as reflected by the One-Minute score). The fact that reading speed of nonwords does not increase after correction suggests that hyperopia affects speed of recognition but not decoding per se.
Optometry and Vision Science: Official Publication of the American Academy of Optometry
Spectacles May Improve Reading Speed in Children With Hyperopia
Optom Vis Sci 2014 Feb 20;[EPub Ahead of Print], LJ van Rijn, JSM Krijnen, AE Nefkens-Molster, K Wensing, E Gutker, DL Knol

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