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Convergence in Children and Adolescents Diagnosed with Autism

Grant Winners

  • Rachel A. "Stacey" Coulter, OD – College of Optometry
  • Annette Bade, OD, F.A.A.O. – College of Optometry
  • Sandee Dunbar, DPA, OTR/L – College of Health Care Sciences
  • Nicole Quint, OTR/L – College of Health Care Sciences
  • Alexandra Boldis, BS – College of Optometry


  • David Loshin O.D., Ph.D. – College of Optometry
  • Stanley Wilson PT, EdD – College of Health Care Sciences


Award Winners

Background Few studies have reported on eye care findings in individuals diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) since diagnostic criteria for the condition were revised in 1987. A recent study of vision in children and adolescents with ASD found evidence of reduced convergence (an eye teaming problem). Since this study did not evaluate patients for refractive error, it is not known if reduced convergence would persist, if patients wore appropriate spectacle correction. The proposed study analyzes vision findings and sensory profile data in children and adolescents with ASD versus those who are typically developing. It shows the frequency of reduced convergence in patients with ASD who are corrected for refractive error. The study pilots research protocols for eye examination testing and evaluation of spectacle wear in a sample of patients with ASD. Methods 100 children and adolescents 9 to 17 years old, 50 with ASD and 50 who are typical will be recruited. All will receive a vision screening and their parents/ guardians will complete a sensory profile questionnaire and visual behavior survey. Patients who show signs of reduced convergence will be recruited for Phase II. Patients in Phase II will undergo a complete eye examination and an occupational therapy assessment. Patients who have reduced convergence and require new spectacle correction will wear the new correction for four weeks, and repeat the eye testing. Spectacle wear reports for patients with reduced convergence will be obtained periodically over four months. Analysis Vision screening data will be compared between the typical and ASD groups. Convergence data and sensory profile scores will be analyzed. Spectacle wear patterns as well as the frequency of reduced convergence and will be obtained. Significance This study will shed light on the prevalence of reduced convergence in ASD and its possible correlation with associated sensory-based behaviors.

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