While many speculate that dyslexia can cause visual complications when reading, the current evidence is mostly anecdotal. But a research team from Boston is trying to change that by documenting self-reported vision-related symptoms in children with dyslexia. Using symptom surveys and comprehensive eye exams that included a detailed evaluation of sensorimotor functioning, they discovered children with dyslexia reported more visual symptoms than their unaffected peers.

The study included 28 children with developmental dyslexia and 33 typically reading children, all between the ages of seven and 11. The participants completed psychoeducational testing, a comprehensive sensorimotor eye exam and the convergence insufficiency symptom survey, which has nine items on vision-related symptoms and six with cognitive influence.1

The questionnaires showed those with developmental dyslexia had significantly more vision-related symptoms than the control group. Ocular motor tracking performed during a reading task revealed an association with visual symptoms in the dyslexia group.1

The study highlights a possible deficit in early vision screening, according to Leonard J. Press, OD, in a Practice Update commentary.2

“Many of these children would pass a routine vision screening and therefore will not have their symptoms addressed because screenings, as they are currently constructed, do not typically probe visual functions related to near point symptomology in these children,” Dr. Press said in his commentary. “Frankly, many of these children would pass a so-called comprehensive eye examination if that examination does not include these visual functions.”

The researchers conclude that children with developmental dyslexia would benefit from vision-related symptom surveys along with a comprehensive eye examination that includes a sensorimotor functioning evaluation to catch these symptoms before they affect the child’s performance.  

1. Raghuram A, Hunter DG, Gowrisankaran S, Waber DP. Self-reported visual symptoms in children with developmental dyslexia. Vision Res. 2019 Jan 4;155:11-16.

2. Self-reported visual symptoms in children with developmental dyslexia. PracticeUpdate. January 23, 3019. Accessed January 25, 2019.