Optometrists and ophthalmologists may have been overestimating how well kids can focus, according to a new study published in the official journal of the American Academy of Optometry. This difference in “accommodative amplitude” could mean changes in the way glasses are prescribed to preschoolers believed to have farsightedness (hyperopia).
The study was published in Optometry and Vision Science, and its findings showed that the way children report their ability to see objects close up can be vastly different from objective measures of visual acuity, according to a press release.
Ultimately, the common practice of asking children when objects became blurry is much more unreliable than previously thought. In fact, only about half of the 3-5 year olds in the study who needed correction were able to say so based on subjective tests such as these.
The objective test, against which this subjective “blurriness” test was measured, consisted of bouncing light into a patient’s eye and measuring the reflected light focus while the person is looking at objects up close.
Researchers hypothesize that the differences between the objective and subjective tests among pre-schoolers occurred because young children can’t flex and focus with their eyes as well as older people can. They may also be less able to perform the subjective tests accurately for cognitive developmental reasons.
“Clinicians will need to take that into account when they are prescribing glasses for some young children—especially those with moderate to high levels of farsightedness,” said lead researcher Dr. Heather A. Anderson, in the release.
How does your office test preschoolers? What have you learned from trying different testing methods? Let us know on social media or in the comments below.