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Christine L Allison, Darrell G Schlange; Longitudinal Results of the Relationship Between Saccadic and Fixation Movements to Birth Order. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2018;59(9):5794.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
The purpose of this longitudinal study is to evaluate the relationship that birth order and the type of activities first born children perform in early childhood have in regards to the development of saccadic and fixation eye-movement abilities. Our original theory was that first born children may exhibit better oculomotor skills prior to entering Kindergarten (K) due to their play activities and reading experiences. Once the children are in a classroom with equal amounts of near activities, though, would that benefit hold?
145 children were examined the summer prior to entering K. The age range was 4 to 6 years old. Each child was given a comprehensive eye exam including tests of accommodation and vergence, as well as ocular health. The children also received an analysis of their saccades and fixations as recorded with the Visagraph Visual Skills protocol. The parents completed a survey regarding the ages of siblings, prior school history, and the amount of time spent on specific tasks such as being read to by an adult, playing near vision games, and participating in outdoor activities. As long as the children remained in the same school, the children were invited back for the same testing in the summer prior to 3rd grade, and then again prior to 6th grade.
Children who were first in birth order exhibited better fixation control with fewer off-target drifts ( p <0.05) and more efficient horizontal saccades ( p <0.05 ). These observations were noted in the children that were read to more often and performed more near vision games, specifically coloring activities. However, as the children progressed in school under the same environmental conditions, the skills of children who were not first born caught up to the first born by the start of 3rd grade, and continued to be similar prior to the start of 6th grade.
First born children show better saccadic/fixation movements prior to K, which allow them to succeed in school and may contribute to early reading success. However, due to the consistency of near vision and eye movement tasks in a typical 1st through 3rd grade curriculum, this affect seems to plateau over time. The type of activities that first born children are encouraged to perform may lead to better eye movement skills at entry to elementary school, but this affect appears to be short-lasting overall.
This is an abstract that was submitted for the 2018 ARVO Annual Meeting, held in Honolulu, Hawaii, April 29 - May 3, 2018.
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