Children's Vision

Vision is important for many aspects of early childhood development and in education. Numerous studies have demonstrated that visual impairment impacts on motor skill development, speech, and academic performance, however, there are a number of gaps in the evidence in this area. Our research seeks to examine the associations between visual impairment from a range of ocular conditions and its impact on a child’s ability, particularly, their academic performance.

Vision & Academic Performance

Learning is multisensory, thus impaired vision may impact on classroom learning and subsequently, academic achievement. In ongoing research, we have been investigating the impact of impaired vision on various aspects of academic achievement in primary school children. Importantly, our studies have demonstrated the high visual demands of modern classrooms and that these are likely to contribute to a child’s early learning and achievement. Our studies showed that simulated hyperopia, anisometropia and astigmatism significantly impact on measures linked to academic performance, particularly when these tasks are sustained.

In one study of Grade 3 school children, we found that approximately 30%  were identified as borderline or unsatisfactory by a vision screening and were referred for a full eye examination. Children who were referred at the vision screening scored significantly lower on national standardised tests of reading, grammar and punctuation, spelling and numeracy, when compared to their non-referred peers. Ongoing research seeks to explore the impact of various interventions on performance and also whether there differences in eye movements between different groups can assist in identifying strategies for optimal learning. This research has important implications for teachers and eye health professionals, as the findings highlight the importance of early vision screening in identifying children who may be achieving below their potential.

Our research team has used eye-tracking technology to explore the variations in gaze behaviour of children performing a range of academic-related tests.

Vision & Indigenous Children

The visual performance of Indigenous children within classrooms is important in identifying strategies to optimise their learning experience. Our studies have shown that Indigenous children have less refractive error and strabismus than their non-Indigenous peers, but have higher levels of convergence insufficiency (CI) and reduced visual information processing skills. Given that vision screenings primarily target visual acuity assessment and strabismus detection, this is an important finding as many children with CI and reduced visual information processing that can potentially impact on academic performance may be missed. Ongoing research seeks to further explore ways in which vision and academic performance can be optimised for all children.

Amblyopia

Amblyopia, commonly referred to as lazy eye, is poor vision resulting from abnormal visual development. It affects approximately three percent of the population. While the treatment of amblyopia has been the focus of multi-centre randomized controlled treatment trials, the deficits in performance on common daily living tasks are still not fully determined. Our research seeks to explore the functional impact of amblyopia to quantify the disability associated with this condition.

 


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