Maximum Available Desk-to-Eye Distance for Students in Grades One and Two:
Regional Norms and Statistical Comparison to Distance Used for Near Point Screening

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MAY 1989


                              April 17, 1989
To the Dean for Graduate Studies and Research:
I am submitting herewith a dissertation written by Betty J.
Ward entitled "Maximum Available Desk-to-Eye Distance for
Students in Grades One and Two:  Regional Norms and
Statistical Comparison to Distance Used for Near Point
Screening".  I have examined the final copy of this
dissertation for form and content and recommend that it be
accepted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the
degree of Doctor of Philosophy, with a major in Special
                              M. L. Hayes
                              Major Professor
We have read this dissertation
and recommend its acceptance:
Marjorie S. Keele
Jean Pyfer
Donna D. Tynan
Michael J. Wiebe

Copyright (c)Betty J. Ward, 1989

All rights reserved


Many individuals and institutions contribute to the completion of a study. I am grateful to all who helped with this project. My special thanks are extended to

  1. dissertation committee members--Professor Marnell Hayes (Chair), Marjorie Keele, M.D.; Professor Jean Pyfer, Professor Donna Tynan, Professor Michael Wiebe, and Professor Wallace Edge (formerly of Texas Woman's University);
  2. pilot subject--Amy Wittenauer and her family;
  3. participating schools and children;
  4. participating furniture manufacturers--American Desk Company and Carter Craft;
  5. state respondents knowledgeable about vision screening practices;
  6. staffs at libraries--American Optometric Archives (Chicago); American Seating Company (Grand Rapids); School of Optometry, University of Houston; and Southwest Center for Medical Studies, University of Texas (Dallas);
  7. professionals in other disciplines who gave of their time and expertise for discussions: Gerald Getman, O.D.; Dr. D. G. Ozias, Texas Bureau of Maternal and Child Health; C.A.T. Salerno, Media Specialist; Ed Snapp, R.P.T.; Richard Srebro, M.D., Director of Research, Department of Ophthalmology, Southwest Center for Medical Studies, University of Texas (Dallas); Professor David Marshall, Department of Mathematics, Physics, and Computer Science, Texas Woman's University; Mildred Marsh, data entry;
  8. authors who responded to personal correspondence;
  9. Beverly Richey Strong, committed typist and word processor extraordinaire; and
  10. Ottis Ward, field technician and husband, who gave unstintingly of his patience, and especially of his support, at times of stress and deadlines.


Ward, Betty J., "Maximum Available Desk-to-Eye Distance for Students in Grades One and Two". Doctor of Philosophy (Special Education), May, 1989, 253 pp., 30 tables, 3 illustrations, 102 titles.

This study establishes maximum available desk-to-eye distance (MA-DED) normative tables for students in Grades 1 and 2 (ages 6 to 9 years) and investigates the effect of age, grade, and sex on available viewing distances while seated at two styles of desks (storage at side or across).

Reports on:

target distances used in nearpoint vision screening (TDNPVS), plus lens power used to screen for hyperopia (+DFL), and vision screening practices (50 states and District of Columbia).

Significance of the study:

supplies criteria for near viewing distances available to students (Grades 1 and 2, ages 6 through 9 years) as bases for generalizability of other research findings and screening results. Statistical findings (two-tailed, p < .05) supported three hypotheses: significant differences for independent samples (MA-DED means and TDNPVS), and diopter equivalents [DS, DA] of MA-DED means and summed equivalents and plus power used in screening, and significant differences for paired samples (means difference remeasured/measured MA-DED means). MANOVA revealed no effects of grade group or age group per se. Univariate analysis revealed three-way interaction among age group, grade, and style of desk; means differences of Side minus Across not consistent between grades when viewed across age groups.


Present +DFL are too low for mean viewing distances; near viewing distances are shorter than most near screening distances; available viewing distances of boys were usually shorter than those of girls; lower age and grade level are associated with shorter available maximum viewing distances; near visual demands are not constant across age and grade or desk style; viewing distance of across desk is less than viewing distance of side desk.


As viewing distances for near vision screening research or determining generalizability; use individual MA-DED established in classroom or appropriate means of MA-DED.

Key Words:

Ages 6 through 9, Near Screening Distances, Near Viewing Distance, Norm Tables, Plus Screening Lens, Vision Screening Practices.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgements
  • Abstract
  • List of Tables
  • List of Illustrations
  • Chapter I:
    1. Introduction
    2. The Problem
    3. Purposes of the Study
    4. Statement of Hypotheses
    5. Limitations
  • Chapter II: Review of the Literature
    1. Developmental Aspects of the Eye and Vision
    2. Investigations by Eye Care Professionals
    3. Investigations by Reading Specialists
    4. Screening
    5. Vision Screening Practices
    6. Furniture
    7. Handwriting
    8. Summary of Review
  • Chapter III: Methodology
    1. Subjects Solicitation of Participants School Districts Students Participants School Districts and Schools Students Helpers and Technician
    2. Equipment and Instrumentation
    3. Procedure Organization of Testing Administration of MA-DED Testing
    4. MA-DED Norms
    5. Statistical Analysis
  • Chapter IV: Data Analysis and Results
    1. Presentation and Analysis of Data
    2. Retention of Subjects for Data Analysis
    3. Results
    4. Summary
  • Chapter V: Summary, Findings, Discussion, Conclusions, Implications, and Recommendations
    1. Summary
    2. Findings
    3. Discussion Commentary Observations
    4. Conclusions
    5. Implications
    6. Recommendations
  • References
  • Appendices
    1. Appendix A: State Publications: Vision Screening Guidelines
    2. Appendix B: Sample Teacher Observations
    3. Appendix C: Inquiry Respondents
    4. Appendix D: Letters
    5. Appendix E: Brief Description of the Study
    6. Appendix F: Summary Consent Form Reply: Measure/Remeasure
    7. Appendix G: Instructions to Local Helpers
    8. Appendix H: Figure 2. Demonstration of Correct Posture
    9. Appendix I: Figure 3. Sample of Target Cross
    10. Appendix J: Procedure for Taking the MA-DED Measurement
    11. Appendix K: Form for Collection of MA-DED Data
    12. Appendix L: Criteria for Measurement Locations and Resulting Locations
    13. Appendix M: Criteria for Fit of Chair and Desk
    14. Appendix N: Norming of the MA-DED
    15. Appendix O: Legend of Acronyms
    16. Appendix P: Reply and Response Forms
    17. Appendix Q: Tables

    List of Tables

  • Table 1: Mean Nearpoint Working Distance According to Age Group in Hurst's Study (Hurst 1964)
  • Table 2: Inquiry Responses, 1985-86: Frequency of Fogging Lens Power by Grade and Age
  • Table 3: Inquiry Responses, 1985-86: Target Distances Used in Nearpoint Vision Screening (TDNPVS)
  • Table 4: Manufacturers' Suggested Desk/Chair Heights for Grades 1 and 2
  • Table 5: Subjects' Ages, Grade Levels, and Ethnic Origins
  • Table 6: Inquiry Responses, 1985-86, Target Distances and Tests Used to Screen Nearpoint Vision
  • Table 7: : Inquiry Responses, 1985-86, Power of Plus Diopter Lens Used to Screen for Hyperopia by Grade
  • Table 8: Frequency Distribution of Furniture Used for MA-DED Measurements
  • Table 9: Retention of Subjects for Data Analysis
  • Table 10: Range of Measured and Remeasured Side and Across MA-DED Scores and Target Distances for Nearpoint Vision Screening   (TDNPVS)
  • Table 11: Range of Diopter Equivalents (+D) of Individual MA-DEDs
  • Table 12: Maximum Available Desk-to-Eye Distance (MA-DED) Means by Age Span and Desk Style
  • Table 13: Student's T-Tests: Expected and Actual Percentages
  • Table 14: MANOVA of the MA-DED
  • Table 15: Cell Means: Differences Between Across and Side MA-DEDs
  • Table 16: Inquiry Responses, 1985-86: Near Tests and Target Distances
  • Table 17: Inquiry Responses, (1985-86): Status of Vision Screening
  • Table 18: Excerpts from TEA Statistical Brief SB81SAR: Annotated Definitions of Terms
  • Table 19: Participating Public Schools: Texas Education Agency Category Analysis, 1985-86
  • Table 20: Participating Parochial School
  • Table 21: Description of Equipment Used in the Study
  • Table 22: Maximum Available Desk-to-Eye Distance (MA-DED) Means by Grade and Desk Style
  • Table 23: Maximum Available Desk-to-Eye Distance (MA-DED) Means by Sex, Grade, and Desk Style
  • Table 24: Maximum Available Desk-to-Eye Distance (MA-DED) Means by Age, Grade, and Desk Style
  • Table 25: Maximum Available Desk-to-Eye Distance (MA-DED) Means by Age, Sex, and Desk Style
  • Table 26: Remeasured Maximum Available Desk-to-Eye Distance (MA-DED) Means by Grade and Desk Style
  • Table 27: Remeasured Maximum Available Desk-to-Eye Distance (MA-DED) Means by Sex and Desk Style
  • Table 28: Linear Range of Emmetropic Clear Vision for Given Accommodation, With No Reserve
  • Table 29: Inquiry Responses (1985-86), Screening for Hyperopia by State: Fogging Lens Power at Given Grade(s) or Age(s)
  • Table 30: Inquiry Responses (1985-86): Hyperopia Screening by Grade, Age, Special Conditions or Populations, and Frequency

    List of Illustrations

    Figure 1: Relationship of Selected Criteria (+D Lens) to Screening Strengths

    Figure 2: Demonstration of Correct Posture

    Figure 3: Sample of Target Cross

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