Reviewed by: Sandy Tran, O.D.
Resident in Vision Therapy and Rehabilitation,
Family Eyecare Associates, Fair Lawn, NJ
The purpose of this study was to investigate the influence of simulated hyperopia with sustained near work on children’s academic performance. Theoretically, uncorrected hyperopia causes an increase in accommodative demand which can lead to visual fatigue. Using different tests to measure academic-related performance, this study asks the question: Is there an association between simulated hyperopia and reduced academic performance in children?
Four standardized testing measures were used including assessment for reading rate, accuracy, and comprehension (Neale Analysis of Reading Ability), visual information processing (Coding and Symbol Search subtests of the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC-IV)), and reading-related eye movement performance (Developmental Eye Movement (DEM) test.)
Fifteen visually normal Caucasian children between fifth and seventh grade participated in the study. Two separate groups were formed. The first was a control group who wore optimal sphero-cylindrical correction with a plano ADD OU. The second group was the hyperopia simulation group, who wore optimal sphero-cylinder correction with a -2.50 D lens ADD OU. Measurements were conducted immediately after the introduction of control or simulated hyperopia and then repeated again after 20 minutes of sustained near work.
The study found that simulated hyperopia and sustained near work independently and together significantly reduced reading performance, visual information processing, and reading-related eye movement performance. It was found that with and without simulated hyperopia, sustained near work for 20 minutes resulted in a statistically significant decrease in each of the academic-related measures.
To conclude, a moderate level of simulated hyperopia impairs performance on academic-related measures. This was found to be exacerbated with prolonged near work. The results of this study have clinical and classroom implications. Refractive compensation for a moderate amount of hyperopia could benefit children’s academic performance and frequent, regular classroom breaks are necessary to avoid visual fatigue.