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Shelley Hopkins, Geoff Sampson, Peter Hendicott, Joanne M Wood; Visual profile of Australian Indigenous children.. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2014;55(13):156.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Little is known about the prevalence of refractive error, accommodative vergence disorders or delayed visual information processing skills in Australian Indigenous children. This is potentially relevant to the reduced reading performance of Australian Indigenous children given the association of these visual conditions with reduced academic outcomes in the wider population. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of these paediatric visual conditions and their association with reading outcomes in Australian Indigenous children.
Vision testing was performed on 595 Indigenous and non-Indigenous primary school children aged 6 - 13 years in Queensland, Australia. Vision parameters measured included visual acuity, refractive error, near point of convergence, horizontal heterophoria, fusional vergence range, visual motor integration (Beery test) and rapid automatised naming (Developmental Eye Movement test). Measures of reading accuracy and reading comprehension were also acquired using the Neale reading test. The prevalence of a range of visual conditions was compared between Indigenous and non-Indigenous children and associations between the visual conditions and reading performance were assessed.
While refractive error (Indigenous: 10%, non-Indigenous: 16%, p = 0.04) was less common, convergence insufficiency was twice as prevalent in Indigenous children compared with non-Indigenous children (Indigenous: 10%, non-Indigenous: 5%, p = 0.04). Reduced visual motor integration (Indigenous: 28%, non-Indigenous: 16%, p < 0.01) and rapid automatised naming skills (Indigenous: 67%, non-Indigenous: 59%, p = 0.04) were also more common in Indigenous children. Reduced visual motor integration and rapid automatised naming skills were significantly associated with poorer reading outcomes in both Indigenous and non-Indigenous children (Indigenous and non-Indigenous: p < 0.01).
This study is the first to assess refractive error, convergence insufficiency, visual motor integration and rapid automatised naming in Australian Indigenous children. Refractive error is less common in Indigenous children, however, there is more convergence insufficiency and poorer outcomes on two visual information processing parameters in this group. This is an important finding given the association between the latter conditions and reduced reading outcomes, in light of known poorer reading outcomes in Australian Indigenous children.
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