Is dyslexia simply a result of a visual disorder? The answer, once again, is ‘no,’ according to a recent study published in the journal Pediatrics. For most of the optometric community, the study simply reiterates widely accepted science. But for some, the study got their hackles up.
The study tested more than 5,800 children and found 3% with dyslexia, 80% of which had normal eye function.
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Cathy Wittman, OD, an optometrist in Lubbock, Texas, worries this article may steer parents away from seeking eye care for their children. “I do not believe vision problems cause dyslexia, but it makes sense that if dyslexia is a neurological condition (which it is), that vision would also be affected because every lobe in the brain is associated with vision, and there are at least 35 areas of the brain that are involved in vision with 305 connections between them” she says.
Steven J. Gallop, OD, an optometrist specializing in behavioral optometry in Broomall, Pa., believes optometry is the victim of a strawman attack launched by researchers dismissive of behavioral vision care professionals, according to a recent blog post. “People in the medical community find it necessary to attack behavioral optometry and vision therapy. They start off with a made-up premise, such as ‘eye problems cause dyslexia,’ and imply that behavioral optometry says that eye problems cause dyslexia or that vision therapy can cure dyslexia. I have never heard anyone in my profession even come close to such statements,” he wrote.
Dr. Gallop also says many of his pediatric patients were misdiagnosed with dyslexia or ADD when they have simple tracking or eye teaming problems.
According to a recent study published in the Journal of Vision, while dyslexia “is considered a phonological processing impairment that might be linked to a cross-modal, letter-to-speech sound integration deficit,” new theories suggest that “mild deficits in low-level visual and auditory processing can lead to developmental dyslexia.”Research into dyslexia is ongoing. Behavioral optometry addresses visual processing issues, and vision therapy helps many read and learn more easily, according to Dr. Gallop.