In what may be the largest clinical study ever conducted in the United States on the impact of glasses on classroom performance, Johns Hopkins researchers report that students who received glasses as part of a school program scored better on reading and math tests. The results, they say, could lead to improved learning for millions of children who are visually impaired and lack access to pediatric eye care.
The study was published on September 9, 2021 in JAMA Ophthalmology.
“We have rigorously demonstrated that giving children the glasses they need helps them do well in school,” says lead study author Megan Collins, MD, MPH, pediatric ophthalmologist at Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Associate Professor at Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics and Co-Director of Johns Hopkins Consortium for School-Based Health Solutions.
The team studied students who underwent eye exams and glasses as part of the Vision for Baltimore program – an effort launched in 2016 after researchers at Johns Hopkins identified a need for vision care among them. pupils of the city’s public schools. At that time, up to 15,000 of the city’s 60,000 kindergarten to grade 8 students likely needed glasses, although many did not know or could not afford them.
Conducted from 2016 to 2019, the clinical trial analyzed the performance of 2,304 students in grades 3 through 7 who received screenings, eye exams and glasses from Vision for Baltimore. The research team studied student performance on standardized reading and math tests, measuring both one-year and two-year impacts.
Reading scores increased significantly after one year for students who received glasses, compared to students who received them later. There was also a significant improvement in math for elementary school students.
The researchers found particularly striking improvements for girls, students in special education, and students who were previously among the lowest achievers.
The glasses offered the greatest benefit to the children who needed them the most – those who really struggled in school. “
Megan Collins, MD, MPH, senior author
The academic improvements observed after one year were not sustained for two years. Researchers suspect that this could be because students wear their glasses less over time, possibly due to losing or breaking them.
To maintain the school results observed after the first grade, the researchers say that in addition to providing the initial exams and the glasses, school-based vision programs should develop greater efforts to ensure that children wear the glasses. received and replace them if necessary.
Neitzel, AJ, et al. (2021) Effect of a Randomized School-Based Interventional Vision Program on Academic Achievement of Grades 3 to 7 A Cluster Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Ophthalmology. doi.org/10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2021.3544.