JAMA Ophthalmology, February 2019
The self-esteem of school-aged children is affected by their scholastic, social, and athletic competence. Limitations caused by amblyopia may impede children’s ability to demonstrate their knowledge and participate in physical activities, which in turn may reduce self-esteem.
In a cross-sectional study, Birch et al. explored this matter further and found that low self-perception among children with amblyopia is associated with slower reading speed and poorer motor skills than their peers.
For this study, which was conducted in 2016 and 2017, the researchers enrolled 68 healthy participants in grades 3 through 8. Of these, 50 had amblyopia and 18 served as controls. Self-perception was assessed using the Self-Perception Profile for Children, which includes five domains (behavioral conduct, physical appearance, and scholastic, social, and athletic competence) and a separate scale for global self-worth. In addition, reading speed, eye-hand task performance, visual acuity, and stereoacuity were evaluated.
Compared with controls, children with amblyopia scored much lower scholastically (mean, 2.93 vs. 3.58; p = .004), socially (mean, 2.95 vs. 3.62; p < .001), and athletically (mean, 2.61 vs. 3.43; p = .001). Among children with amblyopia, lower self-perception of scholastic competence was associated with slower reading speed (r = 0.49; p = .002), and lower self-perception of scholastic, social, and athletic competence was linked to poorer catching and aiming skills (scholastic: r = 0.48; p = .007; social: r = 0.63; p < .001; athletic: r = 0.53; p = .003). There were no meaningful differences between the control and amblyopia groups in regard to conduct, self-perception of physical appearance, or global self-worth.
It is noteworthy that most of the participants with amblyopia wore eyeglasses, versus none of the healthy controls. Therefore, it is possible that the stigma of wearing glasses may contribute to the lower social and athletic self-perceptions of children with amblyopia.
Findings of this study suggest that the impaired visual development related to amblyopia may have wide-ranging negative consequences for affected children. (Also see related commentary by Joseph L. Demer, MD, PhD, in the same issue.)
The original article can be found here.