Who remembers when goji berries were a thing?
Around 15 years ago, they were touted as a cure for aging and even cancer. With all the hype (most of which was later debunked), it became easy to forget what these berries really were: a delicious fruit that has significant health benefits but definitely does NOT make you live forever.
So what does this have to do with vision therapy and dyslexia? A lot.
All it takes is a brief Google search to find articles touting vision therapy as a ‘cure for dyslexia.’ Like the goji berry, vision therapy has been presented as something it’s not. This detracts from its real benefit- helping children with poor vision skills improve their performance at school. In this blog, we’ll go into what vision therapy can and can’t do, especially for children with a dyslexia diagnosis.
Learning Problems Don’t Always Mean Your Child Has Dyslexia
Children with poor vision skills may be bright- and usually are. Yet parents and teachers notice that something is holding them back. You see that your child is working harder than their peers, but they’re unable to achieve the same results. Their vision challenges may even make it hard for them to concentrate.
Vision therapy can help children develop the vision skills that are holding them back, presenting an ideal opportunity to:
- Improve reading levels
- Increase comprehension of what they read
- Enhance attention span
Every year, we see many young patients who are having difficulty reading and struggling in school. Often, they are suspected of having ADHD or a neurobiological learning disability like dyslexia, when the truth is that they have a treatable problem that affects the ability of both eyes to work together and the brain to use the information received.
This type of problem goes undetected because the cursory vision screenings carried out at most schools don’t look into problems with visual information processing or eye movement. These tests focus on visual acuity, which is only one of many visual skills we develop. Once these children undergo vision therapy, parents and teachers often report a greater willingness to read and improved scholastic performance.
Isn’t 20/20 Vision Enough?
“20/20 vision” refers to a child’s ability to clearly see the letters on a chart 20 feet away. While the child may be able to read the letters on the vision charts, he or she might not have sufficient visual skills to read, write, and learn – all of which can adversely affect their performance at school and in sports. Furthermore, it is not unusual for a child who does not need glasses to still have problems with their visual skills.
This is problematic because in a lot of cases, vision issues are ruled out if your child has a physically healthy eye and can see 20/20. A functional vision exam can determine whether he or she has poor visual skills, and if so, a customized vision therapy program can be designed to help them succeed.
So What CAN Vision Therapy Do For Dyslexia?
As a language disorder, dyslexia simply means difficulty with reading, spelling, and writing. Where this gets challenging is that vision problems related to tracking or processing deficits aren’t always ruled out first. The professional making the diagnosis only acts on the premise that the child’s vision is fine, as they haven’t been told differently.
Vision therapy can help with dyslexia symptoms if there are actual deficits in visual function. If this is not the case, vision therapy will not help. However, in our experience, many children with a dyslexia diagnosis do have an underlying visual disorder that affects the way they read, and by training their eyes and brain to work together, their scholastic performance can improve. It’s not a cure, but for many parents, it’s a huge relief.
We want to emphasize that sometimes a child WILL actually have dyslexia. But before you accept that diagnosis and everything that comes with it (such as special programs), we invite you and your child to visit us for a thorough evaluation. Belle Vue Speciality Eye Care can help you determine whether their visual skills are the real culprit and, if that happens to be the case, develop a vision therapy program that helps them love learning again. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call (601) 475-2020.