Eileen E. Birch, PhD1,2; Yolanda S. Castañeda, BSN1; Christina S. Cheng-Patel, BS

Self-perception in Children Aged 3 to 7 Years With Amblyopia and Its Association With Deficits in Vision and Fine Motor Skills

publication date
February 14, 2019
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Importance: Deficits in fine motor skills and slow reading speed have been reported in school-aged children and adults with amblyopia. These deficits were correlated with lower self-perception of athletic and cognitive competence. Although perceived competence and social acceptance are key determinants of developing self-perception in young children, the association of amblyopia with self-perception and the association of altered self-perception with fine motor skills to date have not been reported for young children aged 3 to 7 years.


Objectives: To investigate whether amblyopia is associated with altered self-perception in young children and to assess whether any differences in self-perception are associated with deficits in vision and fine motor skills.


Design, Setting, and Participants:  In this cross-sectional study, conducted at a pediatric vision laboratory from January 10, 2016, to May 4, 2018, healthy children aged 3 to 7 years (preschool to second grade) were enrolled, including 60 children with amblyopia; 30 children who never had amblyopia but had been treated for strabismus, anisometropia, or both; and 20 control children.

Main Outcomes and Measures:  Self-perception was assessed using the Pictorial Scale of Perceived Competence and Social Acceptance for Young Children, which includes the following 4 specific domains: cognitive competence, peer acceptance, physical competence, and maternal acceptance (total score range, 1-4; higher scores indicate higher perceived competence or acceptance). Fine motor skills were evaluated with the Manual Dexterity and Aiming and Catching scales of the Movement Assessment Battery for Children, second edition (score range, 1-19; higher scores indicate better skill performance). Visual acuity and stereoacuity also were assessed.


Results: Children with amblyopia (28 girls and 32 boys; mean [SD] age, 6.3 [1.3] years) had significantly lower mean (SD) peer acceptance and physical competence scores compared with the control children (peer acceptance, 2.74 [0.66] vs 3.11 [0.36]; mean difference, 0.37; 95% CI for difference, 0.06-0.68; P = .04; and physical competence, 2.86 [0.60] vs 3.43 [0.52]; mean difference, 0.57; 95% CI for difference, 0.27-0.87; P = .009). Among the children with amblyopia, self-perception of physical competence was significantly correlated with aiming and catching skills (r = 0.43; 95% CI, 0.10-0.67; P = .001) and stereoacuity (r = −0.39; 95% CI, −0.05 to −0.65; P = .02). Children treated for strabismus or anisometropia, but who never had amblyopia, also had significantly lower mean (SD) physical competence scores compared with control children (2.89 [0.54] vs 3.43 [0.52]; 95% CI for difference, 0.23-0.85; P = .03).

Conclusions and Relevance: These findings suggest that lower self-perception of peer acceptance and physical competence identify the broad effects of altered visual development in the everyday life of children with amblyopia.

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