Reading Difficulties and The Pediatric Ophthalmologist

A 2017 research article further disproves the common misconception that dyslexia is associated with vision problems, and offers insight to what parents and doctors can do better.

Dyslexia is defined as a disability that impacts the auditory processing system within the brain, which leads to problems with reading, spelling, and writing. This is a result of a difference in language processing in the brain, making it hard for dyslexics to decipher words efficiently. It is important to emphasize that dyslexia is NOT a vision-based learning disorder, despite what some may say when perpetuating this myth. Dr. Pierson further iterates this point in her post here. Due to the reliance on oral language skills and object recognition, perfect vision is not necessary to be a good reader. However, it is a separate issue if a child cannot see clearly, which should be explored by an ophthalmologist (a vision and eyecare specialist).

This article mentions numerous ways parents can help their children if they think they are struggling in school, either because of their vision or reading development. The best solution is for general physicians to educate parents about dyslexia and to provide referrals to specialists who can better evaluate learning difficulties. Also, it is best to identify dyslexic challenges sooner rather than later, so that the child can receive attention and stay on track with his/her peers. Vision therapies do not treat dyslexia or any other learning disability, and can hinder a child’s development because it distracts from the real reasons causing the learning difficulties. This answers page describes more about the inaccuracy of using vision therapies to treat dyslexia. The first step is for a child to be seen by a psychologist or other professional trained in language and reading disorders to identify the specific areas where the child is struggling so that a proper intervention plan can be developed and implemented. And, it is important that a child pass an eye exam to determine if vision is an issue or not, but this is true regardless of whether there are concerns about reading. Most importantly, a positive environment for students should be created to foster a space for learning and growth, no matter the challenges they’re facing, vision-related or not.

To read the full research article, follow this link.

Article citation:
Handler SM, Fierson WM, Reading difficulties and the pediatric ophthalmologist, Journal of AAPOS (2017), doi: 10.1016/j.jaapos.2017.09.001.