Sunday, November 22, 2009

Dyslexia Untied: The Importance of Good Eyesight

Unfortunately, 20% (1 in 5) of all school age children have undetected vision problems. Don't panic! Not all of these are acute or permanent and not all are detrimental to the child's development but there are a number of issues that need to be addressed, as soon as possible (ASAP).

If your child has an undetected, undiagnosed or undefined vision problem, they can appear to demonstrate symptoms or behaviours that can be mistaken for dyslexia, but only superficially. Consultation with a qualified expert in the field will dispel or confirm this concern. Rapid intervention is important.

The worst case, and possibly your worst fear, is that your child does have dyslexia and their vision problems are making it more difficult.

Regular Eye Checkups
It is important for all young children that their eyesight is checked regularly and corrected accordingly. It is more important than for adults and older children, because the younger child may be growing and developing at a much quicker rate.

Unfortunately, even if you get your child's eyesight checked as part of a normal screening process, there is a possibility that the average optician will miss the telltale signs of dyslexia, unless it is brought to their attention. It falls back on the parent to be more aware and to be more insistant or assertive, on behalf of their child(ren).

Symptoms to look for
Symptoms that are often associated with Dyslexia can be as obscure as the slight tilt of the head when trying to read or follow words in a text or book. More complex issues are;

  • Amblyopia (lazy eye) - When one of your child's eyes doesn't work as well as the other. 3% 0f children under the age of 6 are reported to have Amblyopia. Treatment: eye exercises, eye patch, etc. Long Term: If it's not treated early it can lead to poor vision into adulthood.

  • Strabismus (deviating eyes) - When your child's eyes appear dis-coordinated and don't look towards the same object, together. It may be a fixed or permanent defect or it may only be temporary and brought on by stress and tiredness. Either way you should seek qualified expert advice.

These conditions are not rare and neither is the situation whereby your child has the 'normal' 20/20 vision but is having difficulties in sustaining their gaze, co-ordinating their eyes, holding and varying their focus, when objects move closer and away from them.

Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome - Some children with Dyslexia have difficulty tracking words and letters along a line or sentence. This is known as Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome, a known issue that can be addresed separately. The Irlen Method of treatment concentrates on this specific issue.

If you have concerns, take this up with your doctor or with a qualified optometrist or opthamologist. The qualifications of the local high street franchise opticians can vary quite dramatically. Check their credentials.

Early detection and diagnosis is important in all childhood issues and none moreso than in vision and hearing, as these can very much affect the child(dren)'s development, education and behaviour.


Don't Panic! The majority of Dyslexia consultants and experts will agree that vision problems 'alone' do not cause or lead to the onset of Dyslexia but it does complicate the situation for the child(ren), the family and the teachers.

Therefore, the message here is; be aware of the impact that vision has on the development of the child and their well being and importantly, early detection, diagnosis and correction or treatment by qualified experts, is essential.

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