At a January 27th press conference, the National Eye Institute announced the results of the Vision in Preschoolers – Hyperopia in Preschoolers (VIP-HIP) study. Researchers from New England College of Optometry, Ohio State College of Optometry, and Pennsylvania College of Optometry at Salus University found a correlation between vision and learning at a young age. The study examined the relationship between uncorrected farsightedness (hyperopia) and performance on early literacy tests in preschool aged children.
The National Eye Institute at the NIH (National Institutes of Health) funded the multi-center VIP-HIP study. Dr. Bruce Moore led the research at New England College of Optometry, Dr. Marjean Taylor Kulp at Ohio State University, and Dr. Elise Ciner at PCO at Salus University. Clinical investigators from New England College of Optometry included Dr. Stacy Lyons, Dr. Nicole Quinn, and Dr. Catherine Johnson. The special education consultant was Marcia Feist-Moore and the study coordinator was Renee Mills. “This study addressed the fundamental issue of the connection between vision problems in children and educational problems that may ensue as a result of those vision problems,” explains Bruce Moore, OD, Professor of Optometry at New England College of Optometry and clinical faculty at New England Eye.
Researchers at each of the three clinical centers utilized early childhood specialists to administer the TOPEL (Test of Preschool Early Literacy) assessment to preschool aged children with moderate hyperopia and those with no refractive error. By comparing the two groups, they sought to investigate whether moderate degrees of uncorrected farsightedness adversely affect reading readiness skills. The results showed that uncorrected hyperopia has a negative impact on literacy measures in preschoolers.
“The results of the study show that some four-and five-year-old children with untreated hyperopia may avoid reading and pre-literacy activities in school,” Dr. Moore said. “If their vision problems remain undetected and untreated, some of these children are at increased risk for academic problems. Providing refractive correction at this young age may help children be more able to acquire literacy skills along with their peers.”
This landmark study builds on years of research through the NIH-NEI funded Vision in Preschoolers (VIP) study. Earlier phases of the study evaluated a variety of vision screening tests for preschool aged children and identified those that are most effective, establishing a scientific foundation for vision screening programs across the United States. This current research confirms the impact of uncorrected farsightedness on school performance and the need for early and appropriate vision care to prevent educational deficits and their consequences.