Importance: Reading and eye-hand coordination deficits in children with amblyopia may impede their ability to demonstrate their knowledge and skills, compete in sports and physical activities, and interact with peers. Because perceived scholastic, social, and athletic competence are key determinants of self-esteem in school-aged children, these deficits may influence a child's self-perception.
Objective: To determine whether amblyopia is associated with lowered self-perception of competence, appearance, conduct, and global self-worth and whether the self-perception of children with amblyopia is associated with their performance of reading and eye-hand tasks.
Design, setting, and participants: This cross-sectional study was conducted from January 2016 to June 2017 at the Pediatric Vision Laboratory of the Retina Foundation of the Southwest and included healthy children in grades 3 to 8, including 50 children with amblyopia; 13 children without amblyopia with strabismus, anisometropia, or both; and 18 control children.
Main outcomes and measures: Self-perception was assessed using the Self-perception Profile for Children, which includes 5 domains: scholastic, social, and athletic competence; physical appearance; behavioral conduct; and a separate scale for global self-worth. Reading speed and eye-hand task performance were evaluated with the Readalyzer (Bernell) and Movement Assessment Battery for Children, 2nd Edition. Visual acuity and stereoacuity also were assessed.
Results: Of 50 participants, 31 (62%) were girls, 31 (62%) were non-Hispanic white, 6 (12%) were Hispanic white, 3 (6%) were African American, 4 (8%) were Asian/Pacific Islander, and 3 (6%) were more than 1 race/ethnicity, and the mean [SD] age was 10.6 [1.3] years. Children with amblyopia had significantly lower scores than control children for scholastic (mean [SD], 2.93 [0.74] vs 3.58 [0.24]; mean [SD] difference, 0.65 [0.36]; 95% CI, 0.29-1.01; P = .004), social (mean [SD], 2.95 [0.64] vs 3.62 [0.35]; mean [SD] difference, 0.67 [0.32]; 95% CI, 0.35-0.99] P < .001), and athletic (mean [SD], 2.61 [0.65] vs 3.43 [0.52]; mean [SD] difference, 0.82 [0.34]; 95% CI, 0.48-1.16; P = .001) competence domains. Among children with amblyopia, a lower self-perception of scholastic competence was associated with a slower reading speed (r = 0.49, 95% CI, 0.17-0.72; P = .002) and a lower self-perception of scholastic, social, and athletic competence was associated with worse performance of aiming and catching (scholastic r = 0.48; 95% CI, 0.16-0.71; P = .007; social r = 0.63; 95% CI, 0.35-0.81; P < .001; athletic r = 0.53; 95% CI, 0.21-0.75; P = .003). No differences in the self-perception of physical appearance (mean [SD], 3.32 [0.63] vs 3.64 [0.40]), conduct (mean [SD], 3.09 [0.56] vs 3.34 [0.66]), or global self-worth (mean [SD], 3.42 [0.42] vs 3.69 [0.36]) were found between the amblyopic and control groups.
Conclusions and relevance: These findings suggest that lower self-perception is associated with slower reading speed and worse motor skills and may highlight the wide-ranging effects of altered visual development for children with amblyopia in their everyday lives.