Does Vision Therapy Remediate Dyslexia?

My daughter is nine years old and is in 4th grade. She has always had difficulty reading, spelling, and with memory in general. Through great effort she maintains high marks in school. She was tested by her eye doctor because he thought that she might have binocular vision impairment. He performed a battery of tests on her to see if she was a candidate for vision therapy that they would conduct in his office. His assessment was that she does have binocular vision impairment, however we have been a little hesitant about the whole process and unsure since it seems to be a new type of treatment.

They performed a common dyslexia test as part of the assessment called the Jordan test that she scored very poorly on that warrants us to want to investigate dyslexia as a possible disability. Per this test, an average nine year old will make five miscues on the test. She had 37 and was off the chart. Maybe she was nervous, maybe it was a fluke…but it was so alarming that we want to get it checked out more fully.

I assume that our next step is to seek a professional evaluation for dyslexia. I’ve looked at the IDA provider directory. There appears to be several providers in our state, but none closer to our home. Are there any reputable providers closer to our area that are not listed on If not, is there another area provider that you would recommend for our situation?

Dr. Pierson's Response: 

Binocular vision impairment is not my area of expertise, but relative to the recommendation that vision therapy is the way to go to treat your daughter’s dyslexia, I attended a talk at the IDA conference in October 2015 and the researchers confirmed that there is absolutely NO science behind vision therapy and the remediation of dyslexia. None. There hasn't been ever, and the fact that this keeps getting pushed to parents who are desperate to help their child is unconscionable to me. Please see my recent post about this.

I have a 2011 IDA journal on controversial therapies on the website. These articles remain relevant. Please view the article: Vision Efficiency Interventions and Reading Disability by Jack M. Fletcher and Debra Currie on the page.

I am the current president of the MI Branch of the IDA board. I do not know anyone specifically in your area to send you for a comprehensive assessment. I would read this information that I have on the website about what a comprehensive assessment of dyslexia entails so that you know the questions to ask.

Are you aware that your daughter could be assessed for a specific learning disability at no charge to you by the public schools? That said, it is my experience in working with the families in my clinical practice that, unfortunately, many times children with dyslexia are not identified in the public schools because dyslexia is not recognized by most school districts despite being listed in the state’s Special Education Administrative Rules. If identified, the next hurdle is receiving the right type of intervention.

You are getting at this at a very important time in your daughter's education. The curriculum and resultant demands really change in 4th grade and if she is having trouble accessing the curriculum (i.e., reading it) and demonstrating what she understands (i.e., spelling and writing), she is just going to get further behind. I started working with a severely dyslexic girl whom I diagnosed in 4th grade last year who has improved significantly in her ability to read text with less than one year of intensive, individual intervention—so we can get your daughter on the right path with the proper intervention! Vision therapy is not going to do that—she needs direct, systematic, explicit intervention in the skill areas that underlie learning to read, spell, and write! Here is a piece I wrote to help parents make similar decisions about the questions that you are asking.

You can view this page and look at the tabs to the right to get an idea of all the different areas that a professional might target with a dyslexic student...You can see that there are a number of them! The areas that we target in therapy should come out of the comprehensive diagnostic assessment—that is why it is important to get a good assessment!

I hope this is helpful. Persevere! And, to reiterate--vision therapy is not the answer if she is dyslexic.