Until recently, most pediatricians and other medical professionals have denied that vision has anything to do with reading and learning disabilities. We now have proof that vision deficiencies are responsible for more than 68% of reading disabled children. We also know that 80% of what we learn is through vision. We are not born with vision. It is an acquired skill. Just like you are born with feet, but can't walk, you are born with eyes, but can't see and process. Vision is a result of both heredity and/or our environment as we develop. If your child is not walking by a certain age, your pediatrician takes corrective measures. If your child is not seeing and processing information at each stage of their development, your optometrist takes corrective measures, like corrective eye glasses or vision therapy. This is why we recommended your child’s first eye exam to be done at the age of six months by a developmental optometrist.
Vision and Reading
Children with serious problems in binocular control tend to telegraph this in noticeable behaviors such as:
They frequently rub their eyes
- squint at the page
- cover one eye or turn sideways to read
- move their head from left to right instead of their eyes when reading.
Any one of these behaviors, if persistent, is an indication that parents should have their child tested by a developmental optometrist specializing in diagnosing and treating visuomotor problems.
-from "Why Our Children Can't Read and What We Can Do About It" by Diane McGuiness, Ph.D., a cognitive developmental psychologist & professor at the University of South Florida
Vision & Developmental Dyslexia
Dyslexia is a term that is used to describe a "difficulty with words," it represents only one aspect of reading disabilities. Dyslexia is almost always used to diagnose children who have the greatest difficulty in learning to read. Unfortunately, parents are led to believe that reading problems in general (in particular dyslexia), have nothing to do with eye site or vision. This is a popular belief among educators, pediatricians, and eye surgeons (Ophthalmologists). Most believe that reading disabilities are caused by "phonological problems," the sound of words (language based), and that vision, may play a limited role in reading comprehension and disabilities. If that sounds illogical to you, as a parent, it should.
So the correct understanding to dyslexia is that the visual centers of the brain aren't communicating well with the auditory/language and attention centers of the brain, which leads to the symptoms experienced by dyslexic patients. Vision therapy can help these areas communicate with each other effectively, reducing or eliminating the reading problems.
Dr. Harold Solan and his colleagues have pioneered in the application of magnocellular theory, helping to explain why so many children who undergo vision therapy, experience improved reading abilities.