Vision Therapy and Dyslexia

Kid struggling to do schoolwork

Vision Therapy: Is It Helpful for Dyslexia?

Academic problems aren't the only issues children with dyslexia face. The learning disorder can take a toll on your child's mental health, causing low self-esteem, anxiety, or depression. Vision therapy may offer the tools your child needs to improve their academic performance and increase self-confidence.

What Is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia occurs due to a language processing issue in the brain. As a result, your child may have trouble with reading comprehension, spelling, writing, grammar, math, or organizing their thoughts when writing.

Unfortunately, some children with dyslexia also have undiagnosed vision problems that make reading and writing even harder. These vision problems can occur even if your child has 20/20 vision or wears glasses to improve their eyesight. According to the College of Optometrists in Vision Development, 10 percent of children have vision problems that significantly interfere with learning.

Your child may have difficulty with these tasks if they have a vision disorder:

  • Recognizing and copying words, letters, numbers, and shapes correctly
  • Keeping their place while reading
  • Remembering or understanding written information after reading
  • Writing legibly
  • Spelling words, particularly if the words start with the same letters
  • Copying and solving math problems
  • Writing on lined paper
  • Telling the difference between left and right
  • Maintaining their balance

Blurred or double vision due to vision disorders can cause eyestrain, fatigue, headaches, and watery eyes when reading. When a child can't see correctly, they may become frustrated, which can lead to daydreaming or behavioral problems at school.

If your child has dyslexia and a vision problem, schoolwork may be incredibly difficult. Even though your child works very hard, it may be difficult to master the concepts needed for reading or writing.

Disorders That Can Affect Your Child's Vision

Vision issues may be related to one of these problems:

  • Eye Teaming. Both eyes must work together as a team for clear vision. If one eye sends slightly different information to the brain, blurry vision, headaches, or double vision could be a problem.
  • Eye Tracking. You use your tracking skills when you follow the path of a ball in the sky or read a line of text. Poor tracking skills may make words seem to jump and move on the page. If your child has an eye-tracking issue, you notice that they must use a pencil or finger to keep their place when reading.
  • Strabismus. Strabismus occurs when the eyes are misaligned. Although it's commonly called "crossed eyes," your child's eyes don't have to be noticeably misaligned for reading problems to occur.
  • Amblyopia. If strabismus isn't corrected, your child's brain may eventually ignore information from one eye, causing a condition called amblyopia (lazy eye). Both strabismus and amblyopia can cause double vision and depth perception issues.
  • Visual Memory. Visual memory issues happen when a brain processing problem makes it difficult to store images correctly. If your child has a visual memory disorder, they may not remember spelling words, even though you've just reviewed them, or recall events that happened a few months ago.
  • Visual Perception. Good visual perception skills make it possible to spot the differences between letters and numbers and write them in the correct sequence. Poor hand-eye coordination may also be related to a visual perception issue.

Since these disorders share many of the same symptoms as dyslexia, it's understandable that a vision problem could complicate your child's dyslexia treatment. Sometimes, these disorders can even be mistaken for dyslexia. In fact, some parents have assumed that their children had dyslexia when a vision disorder was really to blame.

How Vision Therapy Can Help

Although vision therapy can't cure dyslexia, treating vision disorders may make dyslexia treatment more effective. Vision therapy involves age-appropriate treatments and activities that improve the connection between the brain and the eyes. The therapy can even forge new connections in the brain in some cases. During a therapy session, your child may participate in activities that improve eye teaming and tracking abilities or play matching games to improve visual memory. Therapy sessions are tailored to your child's specific vision disorder and offer an effective way to treat many disorders.

Is your child struggling at school due to dyslexia? Contact our office to find out if their issues could be compounded by a vision disorder.

Sources:

International Dyslexia Association: Dyslexia Basics, 2020

College of Optometrists in Vision Development: Dyslexia

National Eye Institute: Amblyopia, 7/2/19

College of Optometrists in Vision Development: Learning-Related Vision Problems

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