The fact that some children are farsighted is nothing new, but now groundbreaking research shows that children who suffer from hyperopia may also have a more difficult time paying attention. The possible link between farsighted children and how well they pay attention has never been made before.
The news could have a significant impact not just on the learning ability of individual children, but may have far reaching implications for conditions such as attention deficit disorder. If attention deficit can be handled with a new pair of glasses rather than a drug, it would be a welcome alternative.
The new study was reported in the journal Optometry and Vision Science and was spearheaded by Marjean Taylor Kulp, professor of optometry at Ohio State University.
Kulp said that is was already known that kids who are farsighted — but don’t get vision corrected — suffer in terms of developing early learning factors. She said the new research suggest the drawbacks of farsightedness may be more critical than thought.
Most of the kids looked at in the study were of preschool age and some of them were enrolled in Head Start programs. In all, 244 kids with moderate hyperopia were tested against a control group of 248 children with normal vision.
Some children who are farsighted are able to compensate naturally to correct their vision, but others cannot. It was the children who could not overcome their own farsightedness that showed signs of difficulty paying attention to certain lessons for certain periods of time.
Professor Kulp said the study suggests that having children corrected for even moderate farsightedness may be more important than ever. Getting them prescription glasses to correct their vision could make a huge difference in their overall academic progress through the critical early years of their learning.
More research on the hyperopia-attention connection needs to be done, but the Ohio study provides significant clues about how well young children learn.