A new study out of Ontario suggests the standard eye exam may not be adequate for testing children’s vision. Even if a child has perfect vision according to a normal vision screening, study authors argue s/he may still have serious issues with binocular vision. Unaddressed binocular vision problems can result in poorer academic performance and/or attention deficit disorder (ADD).
Researchers at the University of Waterloo examined the medical and academic records of over 120 students ranging from six to 14 years old. Over half of the students involved in this study scored well on standard visual screenings. When these students were tested specifically for binocular vision, however, over a third were deemed below average.
Unsurprisingly, the students with below average binocular vision had greater difficulties reading. Study authors also note that these children had a more difficult time paying attention during school, which resulted in lower test scores.
The three main kinds of binocular vision issues people could have include vergence, accommodative, and oculomotor. Unfortunately, the symptoms of binocular vision problems aren’t as easily noticed as other visual disorders like myopia.
Vergence sufferers often have issues turning their eyes. Children with accommodative eye disorders, however, have difficulty switching from long to near vision. Lastly, kids with oculomotor issues frequently lose their place while reading a book.
Professors hope their research will encourage parents to have their children get a full eye exam as early and often as possible. They also believe optometrists should make checking for binocular vision a part of their routine in the near future.
Lisa Christian was the lead author of this study. Dr. Christian works as an Associate Clinical Professor at the University of Waterloo’s School of Optometry and Vision Science.
This study was published under the title “Visual and binocular status in elementary school children with a reading problem” in the most recent edition of the Journal of Optometry.