Farsightedness Associated With Literacy Problems in Preschoolers

smart boy with glasses

Article adapted from Education Week

Many young children have some degree of farsightedness—an ability to see objects far away more clearly than objects that are close up. Health providers are divided on whether moderate farsightedness even requires correction, with some arguing that children are able to compensate for moderate levels of distortion.

But a recent study found that children ages 4 to 5 with moderate farsightedness scored significantly worse on a test of preschool literacy—raising the question of whether eyeglasses might help make a difference. The research was funded by the National Eye Institute, a part of the National Institutes of Health.

Degrees of hyperopia, the medical term for farsightedness, are measured in positive diopters. Health practitioners generally agree that mild cases don’t need correction because children often outgrow it, but a child with hyperopia over +6 diopters should be considered for glasses.

Farsightedness is common in young children; a different NIH study found that about 21 percent of preschoolers have some degree of farsightedness, compared to 4 percent of preschoolers who are nearsighted, and 10 percent who have astigmatism, or an irregular curvature of the eye.

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