To investigate the impact of simulated hyperopia and sustained near work on children’s ability to perform a range of academic-related tasks.
Fifteen visually normal children (mean [±SD] age, 10.9 [±0.8] years; 10 male and 5 female) were recruited. Performance on a range of standardized academic-related outcome measures was assessed with and without 2.50 diopters of simulated bilateral hyperopia (administered in a randomized order), before and after 20 minutes of sustained near work, at two separate testing sessions. Academic-related measures included a standardized reading test (the Neale Analysis of Reading Ability), visual information processing tests (the Coding and Symbol Search subtests from the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children), and a reading-related eye movement test (the Developmental Eye Movement test).
Simulated bilateral hyperopia and sustained near work each independently impaired reading, visual information processing, and reading-related eye movement performance (p < 0.001). A significant interaction was also demonstrated between these factors (p < 0.05), with the greatest decrement in performance observed when simulated hyperopia was combined with sustained near work. This combination resulted in performance reductions of between 5 and 24% across the range of academic-related measures. A significant moderate correlation was also found between the change in horizontal near heterophoria and the change in several of the academic-related outcome measures, after the addition of simulated hyperopia.
A relatively low level of simulated bilateral hyperopia impaired children’s performance on a range of academic-related outcome measures, with sustained near work further exacerbating this effect. Further investigations are required to determine the impact of correcting low levels of hyperopia on academic performance in children.