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  • Writer's pictureEsna van der Walt

Dyslexia: Can Early Detection and Treatment Help Children?

Nearly 1 in 4 school-aged children have vision problems, which may have a negative effect on their physical, intellectual, social and emotional development. The importance of school vision screenings by a qualified optometrist cannot be stressed enough to help identify vision-related learning problems such as dyslexia early on.


Although dyslexia is categorised as a learning disorder, the symptoms of dyslexia and vision problems are often interrelated.


What is dyslexia?


Dyslexia is a learning disorder that affects how the brain processes information, making it difficult to read, write, and spell. It affects a person’s ability to decode letters, identify speech sounds and learn how sounds relate to words and letters. Persons with dyslexia may have difficulty concentrating in noisy environments, organising, prioritising or planning. Vision problems are also common in persons with dyslexia, such as blurry vision, trouble tracking numbers or letters in a line, or objects seeming to move on the page.


Symptoms of dyslexia


Because the symptoms of dyslexia are often similar to those experienced with vision problems, it is important to have a qualified optometrist perform vision screenings to identify and treat any vision problems that may be related to dyslexia.


Symptoms of dyslexia may vary between individuals, but common symptoms in school-aged children (5- 13 years) include:

·       Difficulty with reading, such as reading slowly, not fluently and having trouble recognising words.

·       Reversing words when reading, e.g. “saw” and “was”.

·       Confusing letters and numbers that are similarly shaped, e.g. b and d, p and q, 2 and 5, 6 and 9.

·       Trouble spelling words correctly, making frequent spelling errors with common words.

·       Struggling to express themselves in writing.

·       Trouble recognising and manipulating the sounds in words, e.g. rhyming and identifying syllables.

·       Difficulty remembering and recalling information, such as letter sounds, sight words or instructions.

·       Struggling to follow directions in order.


Vision problems related to dyslexia may include:

·       Issues with eye tracking, which is the eyes’ inability to follow text or numbers in a line.

·       Problems with eye teaming, which means that the eyes don’t work together as a synchronised team, which may lead to letters or numbers “jumping” on the page.

·       Poor binocular vision, which refers to the eyes’ inability to simultaneously blend the images from both eyes into a single image, giving them blurry vision.

·       Accommodation problems, which means that the eyes struggle to maintain clear vision when changing focus from between objects that are close and far away.

·       Struggling to process visual information, which leads to poor visual memory, reduced visual form perception and difficulties with visualisation skills.


Treatment of dyslexia


The treatment of dyslexia requires a multi-disciplinary approach. Vision therapy aimed at improving a child’s visual efficiency and processing has been proven to be effective in treating vision-related symptoms of dyslexia, such as poor binocular vision, focusing difficulties and problems with eye teaming, accommodation and coordination.


Vision therapy as a treatment of dyslexia may involve the use of lenses or prisms to help train visual skills, and the prescription of glasses full time, or as needed for activities such as reading.


In conclusion


Due to the prevalence of vision-related learning disorders such as dyslexia in children, school vision screenings are an important first step in identifying vision problems related to dyslexia. Vision therapy includes using lenses or prisms to train visual skills, as well as wearing prescription glasses. The earlier a child is tested and diagnosed, the sooner they can receive appropriate treatment and reach their full potential.


Does your school offer vision screenings?


Tomlinson Optometrists specialises offers school vision screenings, eye exams and the best treatment to help children reach their full potential. Book a school vision screening by a qualified optometrist today.


Get in touch with us on WhatsApp:

Book an appointment online:

Phone 021 797 7291, email or visit us at 278B Main Road, Kenilworth.




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