PAEDIATRIC OPHTHALMOLOGY: EYE TRACKING DISORDERS

Dyslexia is a commonly diagnosed disorder where children struggle to read in line with their age. There are a lot of controversies regarding the diagnosis and treatment of dyslexia. Below are a few facts supported by current scientific literature:

  • Dyslexia is language-based problem due to weak decoding skills rather than a visual problem. The main issues in dyslexia are problems in understanding written words and comprehension difficulties but in most cases the eyesight and eye movements tend to be perfectly normal.
  • Dyslexia is diagnosed more often in boys than girls and may become an issue if initially undiagnosed leading to the child being labelled lazy, slow, underachieving or being teased and bullied.
  • Dyslexia is not related to intelligence. Also, a child does not outgrow it.

Word skipping in dyslexia is due to linguistic problems, not visual problems. The eye movement abnormalities in dyslexia are the result and not the cause of the dyslexia.

Diagnosis of Eye Tracking Disorders

Children with dyslexia may have visual problems that coexist but they do so in the same proportion as the rest of the population.

It is a good idea to carry out an eye examination in children diagnosed with dyslexia to ensure there are not any associated refractive errors or convergence insufficiency that need to be corrected.

Treatment of Eye Tracking Disorders

Treatment for Dyslexia is phonological where intensive practice in reading and writing is utilised. If at school, it might be necessary to arrange for extra time in assessments as these children sometimes read more slowly.

Eye movement exercises do not treat dyslexia. There is also no evidence that children with dyslexia see words backwards, contrary to popular opinion.

Vision therapy for dyslexia is controversial and there are a lot of excellent resources available on the Internet to help parents choose what is best for their child. Some links that you might find useful are:

AAPOS
Understood.org

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Mr Saurabh Jain

Saurabh Jain Is a Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon and Clinical Director of services at the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust.