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    Vision problems affecting English children’s literacy

    Reductions in vision correlate with lower literacy scores on standardised tests, a new study showed.

    “This study strengthens the argument for a national vision screening programme,” wrote Alison Bruce, Bradford Institute for Health Research in Bradford, United Kingdom, and her colleagues in the British Medical Journal Open.

    While the U.K. National Screening Committee recommends vision screening at age 4 to 5 years, few studies have examined the correlation of vision levels of children to educational achievement.

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    To explore this association, Bruce and her colleagues analysed data from the Born in Bradford birth cohort study, which collected epidemiological data during pregnancy and birth, and literacy measures in a subgroup of the children during their first year in school. In addition, Bradford has a comprehensive vision screening programme.

    From 2007 to 2010, researchers recruited 12,453 women who were waiting for a glucose tolerance test routinely offered to all pregnant women registered at the Bradford Royal Infirmary at 26 to 28 weeks gestation.

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    Separately, researchers invited all 123 Bradford primary schools to participate in a literacy screening. Of them, 76 agreed, leading to the participation of 2,929 children from 2012 to 2014.

    The screening included letter identification on the Woodcock Reading Mastery Tests-Revised subtest, and vocabulary measurement on the British Picture Vocabulary Scale.

    The researchers correlated this data with results from a vision screening programme conducted in Bradford schools by orthoptists that reaches 97% of Bradford school children.

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    As a result, the researchers were able to cross reference vision and literacy data on 5,836 children.

    The researchers calculated the overall mean visual acuity (VA) for all children who received the vision screening was 0.14 logMAR. They found 8.7% had a VA worse than 0.2 logMAR, 4% worse than 0.31 logMAR, and 1.8% worse than 0.4 logMAR.

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