Wearing contact lenses improves self-worth measures among girls, according to the results of a study conducted at five clinical centers in the U.S. by a collaborative team of optometrists and psychologists.
The three-year study, conducted from September 2003 to October 2007, assessed the effects of eyeglasses and contact lenses on the self-perception of nearsighted children ages 8 to 11 years.
A total of 484 nearsighted children (59 percent female) participated in the Adolescent and Child Health Initiative to Encourage Vision Empowerment (ACHIEVE) study. The children were randomly assigned to wear glasses (n=237) or contact lenses (n=247) for three years.
At the end of the three-year period, all children were surveyed using the Self-Perception Profile for Children scale, a proven measurement tool used in numerous studies in the fields of developmental psychology and social development. The scale evaluates self-perception in five areas: scholastic competence, social acceptance, athletic competence, physical appearance and behavioral conduct. It also provides a global measure of self-worth.
Commenting on the results of the study, lead investigator Jeffrey J. Walline, OD, PhD (Ohio State University College of Optometry) said, “Contact lenses significantly improve how children feel about their physical appearance, acceptance among friends and ability to play sports. Contact lenses even make children more confident about their academic performance if they initially dislike wearing glasses.”
Though children in both groups showed changes global self-worth over the three-year treatment period, the change was only significantly different between contact lens wearers and spectacle wearers among girls who reported low levels of satisfaction with eyeglasses at the beginning of the study.
“Girls are particularly vulnerable to social and psychological distress during the transition years of early and middle adolescence and this data suggests that for girls, in particular, a switch from glasses to contact lenses may result in an improvement in self-perception,” said Mitchell J. Prinstein, PhD, Professor and Director of Clinical Psychology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and co-author of the study.
Based on the results of the study, both researchers say contact lenses provide benefits to children beyond simple vision correction, and that parents and eye doctors should take this into consideration when considering eyewear choices for children.
The ACHIEVE study was supported by funding from Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc. (makers of ACUVUE brand contact lenses) and The Vision Care Institute, LLC, a Johnson & Johnson Company.
Source: Girls’ overall self-worth improves with contact lens wear, study shows. (Press release on the Johnson & Johnson website. June 25, 2009.)