MAR 06, 2013
This study of cognitively normal children and adults with albinism demonstrates that impaired vision during childhood does not by itself significantly impede a child's ability to acquire normal reading skills. However, the lower reading fluency found in the more visually impaired individuals suggests they would benefit from having more time to complete reading tasks.
The authors of this study in the May/June issue of the Journal of Pediatric Ophthalmology & Strabismus chose to study reading abilities in individuals with albinism because, despite their vision loss, they are intellectually normal. They administered standardized reading tests to 41 children and 18 adults with albinism.
The tests showed a normal distribution of scores in both children and adults. BCVA did not appear to play a significant role in the development of normal reading ability in these individuals who were visually impaired. Many young children with albinism had superior reading skills despite having a BCVA of 20/200 or worse.
Overall, comprehension scores were higher than fluency scores, which is more consistent with reduced reading speed due to visual impairment. The authors say that although children with vision loss and coexisting brain damage frequently show significant deficits in reading skill, this may not be true for those with isolated visual impairment.
They conclude that with early exposure to reading and access to vision loss accommodations including the use of low vision aids, many children who are visually impaired but cognitively normal can be expected to develop normal literacy skills. Any early problems they manifest learning to read may be secondary to an underlying dyslexic tendency requiring further evaluation.