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Uncorrected Farsightedness Linked to Literacy Deficits in Preschoolers

A child reading a book

Moderate hyperopia, if not treated, may affect reading ability and grade school readiness among preschoolers.

Photo: Joe Balintfy

A study funded by NEI has shown that uncorrected farsightedness (hyperopia) in preschool children is associated with significantly worse performance on a test of early literacy.

The results of the Vision in Preschoolers-Hyperopia in Preschoolers study, which compared 4- and 5-year-old children with uncorrected hyperopia to children with normal vision, found that children with moderate hyperopia did significantly worse on the Test of Preschool Early Literacy than their normal-vision peers.

“This study suggests that an untreated vision problem in preschool, in this case one that makes it harder for children to see things up-close, can create literacy deficits that affect grade school readiness,” said Dr. Maryann Redford, a program director in collaborative clinical research at NEI.

In most children with hyperopia, the condition is mild and has little impact on vision. A small number of preschool children have high hyperopia that is corrected with eyeglasses. It’s estimated that 4-14 percent have moderate hyperopia, which often goes undiagnosed and untreated.

“Prior studies have linked uncorrected hyperopia and reading ability in school-age children,” said Dr. Marjean Taylor Kulp, distinguished professor in the College of Optometry at Ohio State University and lead author of the study. “But large-scale investigations looking at reading readiness skills hadn’t been conducted in preschool children. This study was necessary to determine whether or not, at this age, there was a link between the two.”

The results were published Jan. 27 in Ophthalmology.

The NIH Record

The NIH Record, founded in 1949, is the biweekly newsletter for employees of the National Institutes of Health.

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Associate Editor: Carla Garnett
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Staff Writers:

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Dana Talesnik
Dana.Talesnik@nih.gov

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