Dyslexia and Vision
What is Dyslexia ? Visual Factors in Dyslexia Our Eyecare for Dyslexic People

People with specific learning difficulties have problems with certain areas of academic performance, yet do well in other subjects and are generally intelligent. The most common type of specific learning difficulty is specific reading difficulty; and this is often called dyslexia.

Dyslexic children are usually poor at spelling and may seem intelligent in conversation, but have trouble with written language. Leonardo da Vinci and Einstein are both thought to have been dyslexic.

The term dyslexia is usually reserved for a severe degree of reading difficulty. Dyslexia is best diagnosed by an educational psychologist or qualified specialist teacher. Assessments can be arranged through your school, or privately. Optometrists do not diagnose dyslexia, but they detect visual problems that can contribute to reading difficulties, including dyslexia.

The psychologist would also ensure that the poor reading was not secondary to another problem, such as inadequate schooling or low intelligence. Psychological assessments can be arranged through your school, or privately through a local Dyslexia Institute.

Most experts agree that problems with sight are not usually a main cause of dyslexia. Certain visual problems, however, do occur more often in dyslexia and these may, in some cases, contribute to the reading difficulty.

These visual problems would not normally be detected in a school eye test. The most common visual anomalies in dyslexia are a reduced ability to focus close to and poor or unstable coordination of the two eyes (binocular instability). A series of tests are needed to detect binocular instability, and a modified Dunlop Test may be used as part of this assessment.

These visual problems can cause eyestrain, visual stress, or visual distortions. This may slow reading and discourage children from prolonged reading.

Not all dyslexic people have these visual problems, but some have visual anomalies without realising it. People with a mild specific learning difficulty, perhaps not bad enough to be called dyslexia, can also have these visual problems. The visual problems can usually be treated with simple eye exercises. In some cases, glasses may be prescribed.

At the Institute of Optometry, we run a specialist clinic for the optometric assessment of people with a specific learning difficulty.

In this clinic we carry out a full eye examination and specific additional tests to look for the visual problems that may be associated with dyslexia. These appointments usually take about 1 hour.

After the examination, a report is written explaining our investigations, results, and recommendations. Many tests are necessary at the first examination but it is not usually appropriate to repeat all of these at subsequent consultations. The fee covers the report and all tests necessary for the initial assessment in the learning difficulties clinic, with the exception of Intuitive Colorimetry (see overleaf).

If you would like to book an appointment to attend this clinic, instructions on how to book an appointment are available here, please click.

Fees for attending the clinic are on the next page, please click.

Tinted Lenses and Dyslexia Continuing Care Useful Addresses
If our findings suggest that a person may benefit from colour, then we issue them with a coloured overlay to try. If this is still being used after one school term then a further appointment can be arranged for testing with the Intuitive Colorimeter. This enables the precise tint for glasses to be accurately determined. There is a separate charge for this further investigation. The Intuitive Colorimeter test cannot be carried out without a previous full eye examination and assessment at the Institute’s clinic.

People who wear precision tinted lenses need to continue to have routine checks, usually annually, when they are re-tested with the Intuitive Colorimeter, since the colour they need can change.

One or two appointments may be needed shortly after the first appointment. The cost of the first follow-up appointment is included in the initial assessment fee. Fees for subsequent appointments are shown on the schedule of charges. Any testing or re-testing with the Intuitive Colorimeter is charged at the rate shown on the schedule of charges.

The British Dyslexia Association (BDA) is a support group which can give information on the legal situation concerning learning difficulties and legislation on education. Their helpline number is 0333 405 4567, helpline@bdadyslexia.org.uk

BDA also have local associations around the country who can provide information on services in your area and provide support for families dealing with dyslexia. The BDA website is www.bdadyslexia.org.uk.