Does Your Child Have Dyslexia or a Vision Problem?

Dyslexia is a learning condition that affects the areas of the brain in control of information processing. It limits the ability to identify speech sounds, understand letters, and how sounds relate to words and letters. It leads to learning difficulties because it affects a child’s ability to spell, read, and write.

Vision problems might be the reason a child is having trouble learning. Vision problems can affect the ability of a child to read and do other tasks. Vision therapy is a possible solution to vision-related issues in children.

What Is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia affects parts of the brain explicitly in control of language processing. Children with dyslexia mix up sounds and letters and have trouble spelling out words. They will reverse the letters in words, such as seeing a d and thinking it is a b. They might also misread words, such as cat as tac. Letter reversals, however, can also be attributed to visual processing disorders.

As a learning disability, dyslexia has no effect on intelligence. Children with dyslexia can thrive in school with the correct diagnosis and support.

Treatment for Dyslexia

There is currently no medical treatment or cure for dyslexia. Children with dyslexia instead need to find tools to manage the condition. They can do this with the help of an experienced teacher or reading specialist.

The reading specialist or teacher will use specialized exercises with the dyslexic child. These exercises are meant to help the child with phonemic awareness and phonics. Those are the abilities to perceive speech sounds in words and correspondences of letter sounds.

What Are Vision Problems?

Strong visual skills are necessary to learn effectively in school. Visual skills like coordinated eye movements, sharpness of sight, and the ability to change focus quickly are essential. Learning requires the use of complex mental and visual processes. When a child has vision problems, it will impair their learning.

Vision problems can present during learning in the following ways:

  • Difficulties in Eye Tracking

A child might have difficulty in eye tracking if they skip lines while reading, lose their place when reading, or constantly have to move their head to keep track of the reading lines. Difficulty with eye tracking could also present in a short attention span and poor reading comprehension.

  • Problems With Eye Coordination

Eye coordination problems can present in various ways. The child may have occasional double vision or close one eye while reading. Their eyes may also get tired quickly when they are reading.

  • Deficiency of Visual Memory

The child may experience challenges trying to remember visual information. They may also not be able to visualize written material. Other symptoms could be difficulty with math or being a poor speller.

  • Inability to Maintain Visual Focus

When the child continuously complains of tired eyes, they might have trouble maintaining focus which is important for keeping visual information clear. Maybe they hold books close to their face and only read for a short time.

  • Poor Hand-Eye Coordination

Children with vision problems will commonly have poor handwriting or drawing skills. They will also prefer communicating orally instead of writing down facts and ideas. In addition, they will have trouble copying down information.

Dyslexia and Vision Problems

A substantial number of individuals with dyslexia have other visual problems and studies suggest that they process visual information more slowly. Although dyslexia is a reading disorder, it is not limited to language. Recent research has demonstrated the significance of visual information processing in dyslexia. The visual factors associated with dyslexia include spatial perception, timing, and rhythm. These problems may include inadequate development of function in the visual system, associated pathways, and brain. These problems may also be manifested when catching a ball, maintaining orientation for balance, tying shoelaces, and in tendencies to be accident prone, distractible or absent minded.

The teams of researchers at Harvard University and Beth Israel Hospital also reported that information in the two major processing pathways arrive at the visual brain centers out of sequence. As a result, for most dyslexics, words on a printed page seem to move chaotically and appear as reversals. In essence, this is a visual problem of timing and coordination.

Developmental optometrists recommend a comprehensive, functional, vision evaluation that not only looks at the structure and health of the eye, but also evaluates the functional properties of eyes which are necessary for processing visual information meaningfully. This strategy leads to proper management such as vision therapy, performance lenses, or referral to appropriate professionals. For more on dyslexia and vision problems, call Clarendon Vision Development Center at (630) 323-7300 to reach our office in Westmont, Illinois.

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