The effect of Amblyopia on motor and psychosocial skills in children

Webber, Ann Louise (2009) The effect of Amblyopia on motor and psychosocial skills in children. PhD by Publication, Queensland University of Technology.


Background/Aims: In an investigation of the functional impact of amblyopia on children, the fine motor skills, perceived self-esteem and eye movements of amblyopic children were compared with that of age-matched controls. The influence of amblyogenic condition or treatment factors that might predict any decrement in outcome measures was investigated.
The relationship between indirect measures of eye movements that are used clinically and eye movement characteristics recorded during reading was examined and the relevance of proficiency in fine motor skills to performance on standardised educational tests was explored in a sub-group of the control children. Methods: Children with amblyopia (n=82; age 8.2 ± 1.3 years) from differing causes (infantile esotropia n=17, acquired strabismus n=28, anisometropia n=15, mixed n=13 and deprivation n=9), and a control group of children (n=106; age 9.5 ± 1.2 years) participated in this study. Measures of visual function included monocular logMAR visual acuity (VA) and stereopsis assessed with the Randot Preschool Stereoacuity test, while fine motor skills were measured using the Visual-Motor Control (VMC) and Upper Limb Speed and Dexterity (ULSD) subtests of the Brunicks-Oseretsky Test of Motor Proficiency. Perceived self esteem was assessed for those children from grade 3 school level with the Harter Self Perception Profile for Children and for those in younger grades (preschool to grade 2) with the Pictorial Scale of Perceived Competence and Acceptance for Young Children. A clinical measure of eye movements was made with the Developmental Eye Movement (DEM) test for those children aged eight years and above. For appropriate case-control comparison of data, the results from amblyopic children were compared with age-matched sub-samples drawn from the group of children with normal vision who completed the tests. Eye movements during reading for comprehension were recorded by the Visagraph infra-red recording system and results of standardised tests of educational performance were also obtained for a sub-set of the control group. Results Amblyopic children (n=82; age 8.2 ± 1.7 years) performed significantly poorer than age-matched control children (n=37; age 8.3 ± 1.3 years) on 9 of 16 fine motor skills sub-items and for the overall age-standardised scores for both VMC and ULSD items (p<0.05); differences were most evident on timed manual dexterity tasks. The underlying aetiology of amblyopia and level of stereoacuity significantly affected fine motor skill performance on both items. However, when examined in a multiple regression model that took into account the inter-correlation between visual characteristics, poorer fine motor skills performance was only associated with strabismus (F1,75 = 5.428; p =0. 022), and not with the level of stereoacuity, refractive error or visual acuity in either eye. Amblyopic children from grade 3 school level and above (n=47; age 9.2 ± 1.3 years), particularly those with acquired strabismus, had significantly lower social acceptance scores than age-matched control children (n=52; age 9.4 ± 0.5 years) (F(5,93) = 3.14; p = 0.012). However, the scores of the amblyopic children were not significantly different to controls for other areas related to self-esteem, including scholastic competence, physical appearance, athletic competence, behavioural conduct and global self worth. A lower social acceptance score was independently associated with a history of treatment with patching but not with a history of strabismus or wearing glasses. Amblyopic children from pre-school to grade 2 school level (n=29; age = 6.6 ± 0.6 years) had similar self-perception scores to their age-matched peers (n=20; age = 6.4 ± 0.5 years). There were no significant differences between the amblyopic (n=39; age 9.1 ± 0.9 years) and age-matched control (n = 42; age = 9.3 ± 0.38 years) groups for any of the DEM outcome measures (Vertical Time, Horizontal Time, Number of Errors and Ratio (Horizontal time/Vertical time)). Performance on the DEM did not significantly relate to measures of VA in either eye, level of binocular function, history of strabismus or refractive error.
Developmental Eye Movement test outcome measures Horizontal Time and Vertical Time were significantly correlated with reading rates measured by the Visagraph for both reading for comprehension and naming numbers (r>0.5). Some moderate correlations were also seen between the DEM Ratio and word reading rates as recorded by Visagraph (r=0.37). In children with normal vision, academic scores in mathematics, spelling and reading were associated with measures of fine motor skills. Strongest effect sizes were seen with the timed manual dexterity domain, Upper Limb Speed and Dexterity.
Conclusions Amblyopia may have a negative impact on a child’s fine motor skills and an older child’s sense of acceptance by their peers may be influenced by treatment that includes eye patching. Clinical measures of eye movements were not affected in amblyopic children.
A number of the outcome measures of the DEM are associated with objective recordings of reading rates, supporting its clinical use for identification of children with slower reading rates. In children with normal vision, proficiency on clinical measures of fine motor skill are associated with outcomes on standardised measures of educational performance. Scores on timed manual dexterity tasks had the strongest association with educational performance. Collectively, the results of this study indicate that, in addition to the reduction in visual acuity and binocular function that define the condition, amblyopes have functional impairment in childhood development skills that underlie proficiency in everyday activities. The study provides support for strategies aimed at early identification and remediation of amblyopia and the co-morbidities that arise from abnormal visual neurodevelopment.

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ID Code: 30211
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD by Publication)
Supervisor: Wood, Joanne, Brown, Brian, & Gole, Glen
Keywords: amblyopia, strabismus, anisometropia, fine motor skills, eye movements, self-esteem, psychosocial, stereopsis, visual acuity, education
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 03 Feb 2010 02:06
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2017 14:43

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