Children with Down syndrome develop better with special glasses


Specialists are convinced of the effectiveness of bifocal glasses

Children with Down syndrome see poor vision not only from a distance, but also from up close. PhD research by Christine de Vieger-Zieglistra of Radbodomic shows that these children see better with glasses that correct both deformities. It also develops better with these glasses.

Reading glasses come with age, right? Not for children with Down syndrome. We have known for a long time that these children suffer from poor distance vision, but recently it has also been shown that their close vision has been severely impaired. This is due to a defect in the brain and eyes that prevents children from focusing properly. Kristin de Weger-Zigelstra, an orthoptist and researcher at Radboudumc: “He used to give these children normal monofocal glasses to improve distance vision, but they still had a blurry image near them. We investigated whether bifocal glasses, which correct far and near vision, improve the vision of children with Down’s disease. We also looked at what glasses are doing to these children’s development. For example, we examined working memory, selective attention, the ability to control behavior, and flexible thinking.

Play on tablet
De Weger-Zijlstra studied more than 100 children between the ages of two and sixteen with Down syndrome. Half of the glasses were given monofocal and the other half were bifocal. Then different measurements were made for a year. It wasn’t just targeting visual function. For example, I also looked at the position of the eyes. “Children with lower extremities often deviate and this limits their vision,” she says. “An eye that is stared does not count.” Parents and teachers filled out questionnaires to map development. For this purpose, the children performed a specific task on a tablet. De Weger-Zijlstra: “For them it was like playing a game and they really enjoyed it.”

improve cognitive development
The results of the survey are very positive. Bifocal glasses greatly improve near vision and reduce strabismus. Remarkably, the use of these glasses promotes sophistication. De Weger-Zijlstra: “We have also seen the strongest development in children with significant improvement in their eyesight. This underscores the importance of good vision both far and near for a child’s development. Since impaired close-range vision is virtually non-existent in normal children, no consideration has been taken of That in mind in the case of Down syndrome.Thanks to this research, we can now help them better.

The new standard treatment
The search results are now put into action. “There is a lot of support in Dutch pediatric ophthalmology,” says Nienke Boonstra, co-supervisor and one of the research leaders. This study was conducted in 15 hospitals and the specialists there are convinced of the efficacy of bifocal glasses. We anticipate that this treatment will become the new standard for children with Down’s disease nationally and internationally.

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Children with Down develop better with special glasses
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