Dating back at least 25 years, research has shown that uncompensated hyperopia has a deleterious effect on academic performance. This was popularized in the literature by the husband and wife team of Joy and Jerome Rosner based at the University of Houston College of Optometry. Evidence has linked hyperopia with broad issues such as impaired literacy standards in children, and specific issues such as the effect of induced blur on the Beery-Buktenica developmental test of visual-motor integration.
The most wide-ranging review on the subject was published earlier this year in the Asia-Pacific Journal of Ophthalmology, titled The Impact of Hyperopia on Academic Performance Among Children: A Systematic Review. In their conclusion, the authors state that theirs is the first systematic review and meta-analysis to focus on the impact of uncorrected hyperopia and hyperopic spectacle correction on academic performance globally. They add: “We found an association between uncorrected hyperopia and children’s poor educational performance and reading skills … Hyperopia in children, if left undetected, could have a significant negative effect on economic and academic opportunities throughout life.”
There isn’t any area of clinical practice about which one couldn’t say that more research is welcome to add to “cause and effect”. In the interim, this latest paper adds weight to the clinical observations by optometrists that low plus lenses can have a profound impact on the academic performance of select children. You can read the full text of this extensive systematic review and meta-analysis here.
It is encouraging to see ophthalmology now discovering a connection between uncorrected hyperopia and reduced academic achievement, although others have shown connections over many years between hyperopia and delayed development of visual information processing;
Stewart-Brown S et al. Educational attainment of 10-year-old children with treated and untreated visual defects. Dev Med Child Neurol 1985; 27:504-13.
William WR et al. Arch Dis Child 2005;90:150-3.
Roch-Levecq AC et al. Arch Ophthalmol 2008;126:252-8.
And OMD’s recommending dynamic retinoscopy in prescribing for hyperopia:\\
Dynamic Retinoscopy: the missing data. David G. Hunter. Survey of Ophthalmology 2001; 46: 269-274.
Dynamic Retinoscopy. David Guyton, Gerard O’Connor. Current Opinion in Ophthalmology 1991; 2: 78-80.
Steve Leslie B Optom FCOVD FACBO
Thanks for commenting and adding the references, Steve. I agree that it is encouraging, though the articles (including the review paper I cited, of which three of the authors are ODs in addition to the MDs) are careful to note that just because there is a connection doesn’t mean that the actual Rx-ing of the plus lenses will improve academic performance. Perhaps they will get there in our lifetime. 😉