It may sound like common sense, but a recent study, published in the Archives of Ophthalmology, has shown that glasses can improve the skills of young children.
When I prescribe glasses to adults, my most common goal is to improve clarity of sight. This is true for children as well. But vision is a learned skill and since the majority of this development occurs during the early years, I am also thinking about the overall development of the child when I prescribe glasses.
The recent study examined two groups of low-income pre-schoolers. One group needed glasses to see clearly but didn't have them. The other group could see clearly without glasses. The groups were essentially the same in every other way.
The study demonstrated two things: First, the children that had been without glasses performed less well on standardized tests of visual-motor integration (eye-hand coordination). This could be because they couldn't see well the tests that they were given, or because their development was hampered by poor or uncomfortable vision. (Authors suspect the latter). The study showed that the the level of visual-motor deficit was similar to those who have had nutritional deficits, high lead exposure, and premature birth.
The second (and more exciting finding) of the study was that after wearing the proper glasses for only six weeks, the scores of the poorly performing group improved to match those of the other group. This shows that not only were the glasses improving the clarity of sight for these young children, they were allowing them to catch up to their peers in development.
After I prescribe glasses to young children, parents routinely comment on how much better their child perform. They can often write neater, color within the lines, read faster and demonstrate better comprehension. As a children's eye doctor, this is always gratifying to hear.
If you have young children, be sure to get their vision evaluated. And although it might seem to be a struggle, if glasses are prescribed for your child, ensure that he or she wears them as directed.
Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD
Bright Eyes Family Vision Care
Located in the Westchase area of Tampa.