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Throughout the last several decades, researchers and health care providers have proposed that birth order has a major affect on various aspects of a child’s development, from personality type, to IQ, and now, to vision. A relatively new study conducted by researchers at the Illinois College of Optometry has revealed that first-born and single children are more likely to have better eye movement skills and vision health than their younger siblings.

For the study, researchers examined the eyes of various children from the Chicago area who were all from similar socioeconomic backgrounds. All children were between the school ages of kindergarten and third grade, and had undergone a comprehensive eye exam in the summer prior to enrolling for kindergarten. Many of the children underwent another eye exam prior to entering the third grade.

The study revealed that 30 percent of all participants had developed a vision problem sometime between kindergarten and third grade. Lead study author Dr. Christine Allison says that this trend could be partly due to the increased use of computers and mobile devices among young children, which puts added stress on a child’s developing vision health.

Dr. Allison and colleague Dr. Darrell Schlange say that children with great vision health often fare better in school with reading and learning comprehension, which could also be why many first-born and single children tend to excel in school compared to their younger siblings. However, parents can help their younger children improve vision health by doing activities such as constructing jigsaw puzzles, drawing, and coloring — all of which can lead to better eye-hand coordination and eye movement skills.

Though the Illinois College of Optometry study has long since ended, Dr. Schlange says more research needs to be conducted to better understand why younger siblings often have worsened vision health compared to their older brothers and sisters. In the meantime, Dr. Schlange recommends that parents make annual eye exam appointments for their children starting as early as kindergarten to screen for possible vision problems.

Do you suspect that one or more of your children suffer from vision-related health problems? Call Silverstein Eye Centers today to make an appointment for an eye exam.

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