Reading Fluency in School-Aged Children with Bilateral Astigmatism

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Abstract

Purpose

To compare oral reading fluency (ORF) in students with no/low astigmatism and moderate/high astigmatism and to assess the impact of spectacle correction on ORF in moderate and high astigmats.

Methods

Subjects were third- to eighth-grade students from a highly astigmatic population. Refractive error was determined through subjectively refined cycloplegic autorefraction. Data from students with ocular abnormalities, anisometropia, symptomatic binocular vision disorders, or refractive error that did not meet study criteria (no/low [cylinder < 1.00 both eyes, no significant myopia/hyperopia], moderate [cylinder ≥ 1.00 D both eyes, mean ≥ 1.00 D and < 3.00 D], or high astigmatism group [cylinder ≥ 1.00 D both eyes, mean ≥ 3.00 D]) were excluded. Oral reading fluency was tested with a modified version of the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) Next test of ORF. No/low astigmats were tested without spectacles; astigmats were tested with and without spectacles. Mean ORF was compared in no/low astigmats and astigmats (with and without correction). Improvement in ORF with spectacles was compared between moderate and high astigmats.

Results

The sample included 130 no/low, 67 moderate, and 76 high astigmats. ORF was lower in uncorrected astigmats than in no/low astigmats (p = 0.011). ORF did not significantly differ in no/low astigmats and corrected astigmats (p = 0.10). ORF significantly improved with spectacle correction in high astigmats (p = 0.001; mean improvement, 6.55 words per minute) but not in moderate astigmats (p = 0.193; mean improvement, 1.87 words per minute). Effects of spectacle wear were observed in students who read smaller text stimuli (older grades).

Conclusions

ORF is significantly reduced in students with bilateral astigmatism (≥1.00D) when uncorrected but not when best-corrected compared with their nonastigmatic peers. Improvement in ORF with spectacle correction is seen in high astigmats but not in moderate astigmats. These data support the recommendation for full-time spectacle wear in astigmatic students, particularly those with high astigmatism.

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