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A recent study by Old Dominion University's Roger A. Johnson has found a significant link between poor vision and reading difficulties.

Johnson, an associate professor of educational curriculum and instruction, worked with Dr. Joel Zaba, a Virginia Beach optometrist, to study poor vision in Title 1 students. Title 1 is a federal educational program that provides supplemental reading and other services to disadvantaged students. After giving vision tests to 186 students, which included 93 Title 1 students and 93 students who did not qualify for admission into Title 1, the pair found that 85 percent of the Title 1 students failed at least one of the vision screening battery tests. In addition, 93 percent failed at least one developmental eye movement test, a tracking battery.

The study indicates the importance for educators to look for students who display signs of poor eyesight, like holding a book too close to the face, squinting or using a finger as a placemark when reading.

"Educators as well as the students themselves are not likely to realize that many youngsters may have deficient visual skills. Instead, everyone may believe that students have a learning or reading disorder," said Johnson.
Previous studies by Johnson and Zaba have shown a prevalence of visual difficulties among illiterate populations, academically at-risk college students, at-risk inner-city youth and juvenile offenders.

The pair's study will be published in the next issue of the Journal of Behavioral Optometry.

This article was posted on: March 6, 2000

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