According to the International Dyslexia Association, dyslexia is a "language-based learning disability [and] refers to a cluster of symptoms that result in people having difficulties with specific language skills, particularly reading." While dyslexia is not a vision problem, a substantial number of individuals with dyslexia have other visual problems. Depending on its severity, a learning-related vision problem can sometimes be misidentified as dyslexia because there are similarities. However, it is more common that children with dyslexia also have a visual component that is contributing to their difficulties.
When a child struggles with reading and learning it is important to first rule out the possibility of a vision problem. If a vision problem exists, treatment may involve glasses, optometric vision therapy, or both. Once the vision problem is treated successfully, tutoring and other special services that aim to alleviate the symptoms of dyslexia can become more effective.
According to pediatrician and parent advocate for the National Center for Learning Disabilities, Dr. Debra Walhof:
"It is important to remember that normal sight may not necessarily be synonymous with normal vision...That being said, if there is a vision problem, it could be preventing the best tutoring and learning methods from working. Now that certainly doesn't mean every dyslexic child needs vision therapy, however in my opinion, skills such as focusing, tracking and others are essential foundational tools for reading. In general, if your child has trouble with reading or learning to read, getting a vision evaluation to assess these skills from a qualified Developmental Optometrist would be a smart move.”
Locate a Doctor in your area who is experienced and knowledgeable in diagnosing and treating vision problems that masquerade as dyslexia or contribute to the unique challenges presented by dyslexia.
Vision, Learning & Dyslexia
The Joint Organizational Policy Statement of the American Academy of Optometry and the American Optometric Association
A flawed statement on vision therapy, learning and dyslexia is reissued
The Pediatrics/ Ophthalmology statement on vision therapy is outdated and flawed. Read this response to the AAP position statement on vision therapy.
Vision and Dyslexia White Paper
COVD’s White Paper on Vision and Dyslexia
Vision Based Learning Problems: The Role Of The Optometrist On The Multidisciplinary Team
A White Paper provided by COVD