Parents generally don’t put much thought into their children’s eyesight when they’re three or four. How bad could their eyes possibly be, right? And how is a kid that young going to take care of a pair of glasses? Unless they’re stumbling into the furniture and failing to recognize familiar faces, most children won’t see an eye doctor until a few more years have passed. However, this could be a big mistake on parents’ part.
Farsightedness is the most common vision problem among preschool-age children, affecting about one out of five preschoolers, according to a study conducted by the National Eye Institute in 2011. It’s also the least likely vision complication to resolve on its own as a child gets older, and recent research suggests that even moderate farsightedness may affect early literacy skills, as well as future reading abilities.
What Is Hyperopia?
Farsightedness, or hyperopia, is a vision complication that makes close-range objects appear blurry and out of focus. Mild cases of farsightedness in young children may resolve without treatment, but children with more severe complications typically need glasses to help the eye muscles focus. Uncorrected hyperopia could result in vision loss and is linked to reading difficulties in older children.
Farsightedness and Early Literacy
A recently published National Eye Institute study found that 4 and 5-year-old children with moderate cases of farsightedness did not perform as well as children with normal vision on the Test of Preschool Early Literacy. The study compared the test scores of 250 children with hyperopia to the scores of 250 children with normal vision. The children with farsightedness scored lower on all three parts of the test, with the most significant difference occurring in abilities to recognize printed letters and to identify their sounds.
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What Can You Do?
Vision problems in children often go unnoticed until after kindergarten. This delay in detection creates an ongoing struggle with reading for many children with hyperopia. Schedule an instrument-based vision screening with your child’s pediatrician, and.watch your toddler or preschooler for signs that may indicate a problem with eyesight, such as holding objects too close, frequent eye rubbing, or excessive squinting. Encourage activities that strengthen hand-and-eye coordination (and vision), such as playing catch, coloring, finger painting, or putting together puzzles, and make reading time part of your daily routine.
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