Does your child reverse the order of letters they read or find it hard to comprehend what they just looked at? Have you ever been told that your child has dyslexia? It is estimated that over 40 million Americans suffer from dyslexia, which is often diagnosed during childhood. But what if some of these children actually don’t have dyslexia, but instead suffer only from poor visual efficiency and processing skills? This could greatly decrease the speculated prevalence of dyslexia in schoolchildren, which is currently believed to be 17%.
What is dyslexia?
Dyslexia is described as a reading disorder with difficulty processing language. So that must mean if your child has trouble reading and often mixes up letters, they must be dyslexic, right? Contrary to popular belief, this may actually be wrong. Diagnosis can be very challenging as there is such a wide range of broad symptoms related to reading. Moreover, these symptoms often overlap with those of ADD or ADHD, characterized by a lack of concentration and attention. Signs of dyslexia include poor reading comprehension, slow development in speaking, trouble remembering words, and difficulty spelling and following directions. Even though people with dyslexia may experience letters moving on the page or appearing to be in a different order, they actually have healthy eyes and good visual acuity, or sharpness of vision. Furthermore, dyslexia is in no way an indicator of intelligence; some people diagnosed with dyslexia, like Steve Jobs, are very bright. Consequently, it is not difficult to see why dyslexia is sometimes said to be a diagnosis by exclusion. No alternative explanation can explain the evident reading disorder, so dyslexia is the only remaining conclusion.
Similarities between dyslexia and visual problems
While dyslexia may be caused by and encompass a multitude of factors, learning-related visual problems specifically can also lead to difficulties with reading. Unfortunately, there is no cure, but what may have been diagnosed as dyslexia may not actually be dyslexia at all. Visual efficiency and processing problems also include symptoms that parallel those associated with dyslexia. People with poor visual processing can experience letter reversals and difficulty differentiating between letters, numbers, and shapes. Words that appear to be jumping around on the page can be caused by visual motor issues such as poor binocularity or eye tracking skills. As you can imagine, this could lead to struggles with reading and thus a lack of concentration and attention. However, once these visual skills are strengthened through vision therapy, the seemingly dyslexic symptoms disappear.
Comprehensive Eye Exams
The similarities between dyslexia and visual problems emphasize the importance of yearly eye exams with your optometrist. Your optometrist can identify visual issues that may be the cause of your child’s difficulties, as opposed to the diagnosis of incurable dyslexia. At Excel Optometry, our optometrists can evaluate your child to determine which visual skills can be improved. What your pediatrician believes to be dyslexia may actually be a visual efficiency or processing problem that can be resolved through vision therapy. And even if your child does have a reading disorder like dyslexia that may involve more than just visual skills.
Where is Excel Optometry?
Serving the communities of Orange County, CA. Schedule a visit to learn more. Our optometry practice is located in Ladera Ranch at Crown Valley Pkwy, CA 92694. Call us at (949) 844-3966.