In a recent study, toddlers with uncorrected astigmatism performed worse on cognitive and language tasks than children who had lower or no refractive error, suggesting a correlation between the two.1

The study included children between the ages of 12 and 35 months who failed a vision screening at a well-child check. Full-term children with no known medical or developmental conditions participated in a Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development III assessment conducted by an examiner who was masked to the children’s exam results. Researchers used independent sample tests to compare the cognitive, language (receptive and expressive) and motor (fine and gross) scores of children with moderate-to-high astigmatism (>2.00D) with children with no or low refractive error.

A total of 13 children were placed in each group. The investigators found children with moderate-to-high astigmatism had significantly poorer mean scores on the cognitive and language scales and the receptive communication language subscale compared to children with no or low refractive error. Children with moderate-to-high astigmatism had poorer mean scores on the motor scale, fine and gross motor subscales and the expressive communication subscale, but the differences were not statistically significant, the study reported.

“The results suggest that uncorrected astigmatism in toddlers may be associated with poorer performance on cognitive and language tasks. Further studies assessing the effects of uncorrected refractive error on developmental task performance and of spectacle correction of refractive error in toddlers on developmental outcomes are needed to support the development of evidence-based spectacle prescribing guidelines,” researchers said.

Harvey EM, McGrath ER, Miller JM, et al. A preliminary study of astigmatism and early childhood development. J AAPOS. 2018 June 18, 2018. [Epub ahead of print].