Purpose. This study compared three different methods of determining a reading addition and the possible improvement on reading performance in children and young adults with low vision.
Methods. Twenty-eight participants with low vision, aged 8 to 32 years, took part in the study. Reading additions were determined with (a) a modified Nott dynamic retinoscopy, (b) a subjective method, and (c) an age-based formula. Reading performance was assessed with MNREAD-style reading charts at 12.5 cm, with and without each reading addition in random order. Outcome measures were reading speed, critical print size, MNREAD threshold, and the area under the reading speed curve.
Results. For the whole group, there was no significant improvement in reading performance with any of the additions. When participants with normal accommodation at 12.5 cm were excluded, the area under the reading speed curve was significantly greater with all reading additions compared with no addition (p = 0.031, 0.028, and 0.028, respectively). Also, the reading acuity threshold was significantly better with all reading additions compared with no addition (p = 0.014, 0.030, and 0.036, respectively). Distance and near visual acuity, age, and contrast sensitivity did not predict improvement with a reading addition. All, but one, of the participants who showed a significant improvement in reading with an addition had reduced accommodation.
Conclusions. A reading addition may improve reading performance for young people with low vision and should be considered as part of a low vision assessment, particularly when accommodation is reduced.