A recent study from QUT has found that approximately 30 per cent of a sample of 109 Year 3 students were identified as potentially having uncorrected eye problems and were referred for further optometric examination.
The referred children were found to have significantly lower NAPLAN scores in Reading, Spelling, Grammar and Punctuation, and Numeracy subtests.
“Children’s eyes need to be tested early in primary school and throughout schooling to ensure they can fully engage with the visual aspects of classroom learning,” said Dr Sonia White, Senior Research Fellow from QUT’s Faculty of Education.
The study also involved Prof Joanne Wood, Dr Alexander Black and Dr Shelley Hopkins from QUT’s School of Optometry and Vision Science, Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation.
“In our current follow-up project, funded by the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation (Eldon & Anne Foote Trust Donor Advised Program 2015), we are investigating whether vision intervention one year earlier, in Year 2, can ameliorate the differences in achievement we saw in the Year 3 children,” Professor Wood said.
“We hypothesise that early vision interventions could support children’s development of literacy and numeracy and subsequent classroom learning and achievement.”
Schools that were involved in the study had reported big improvements with the students, with some showing a marked increase in their reading level and greater classroom participation.
As well as vision assessment, children completed a range of near vision learning tasks, such as reading and mathematics, while eye tracking was used to examine specific visual processing behaviours underlying these activities.
“The aim is to level the playing field in terms of vision and provide every opportunity for learning and academic achievement for children in school and later life,” Wood said.