Sunday, June 9, 2013

If your child has reading problems, treatable vision and eye movement disorders may be the reason

The evidence on eye problems associated with reading difficulties and learning problems continues to accumulate.  At our Vancouver eye and vision clinic, we treat many students with eye movement and vision problems who are struggling in school and who read below grade lever.

We use ocular motor therapy, vision therapy and eye-brain rehabilitation to get both eyes working together properly.  Often the students who we treat experience a huge jump in their reading abilities, improving by 4 or five reading levels following therapy.

A new study entitled Association between reading speed, cycloplegic refractive error, and oculomotor function in reading disabled children versus controls published in the May 2012 issue of the journal Graefes Archives of Clinical Experimental Ophthalmology adds to the evidence of the connection between eye and vision problems and learning.

The researchers were struck by the fact that in Ontario, Canada, approximately one in ten students aged 6 to 16 in Ontario have an individual education plan (IEP) in place because of various learning disabilities.  May of those learning problems were specific to reading.   They wanted to investigate the relationship between reading vision problems and binocular vision problems.

The researchers measured the visual acuity and eye movement measurements of students that had an IEP and compared those results with students in a regular education program.

The researchers found that the IEP group had significantly greater hyperopia, compared to the control group on cycloplegic examination. Vergence facility was significantly correlated to (i) reading
speed, (ii) number of eye movements made when reading, and (iii) a standardized symptom scoring system. Vergence facility was also significantly reduced in the IEP group versus controls. Significant differences in several other binocular vision related scores were also found.

Here is the study's conclusion:

This research indicates there are significant associations between reading speed, refractive error, and in particular vergence facility. It appears sensible that students being considered for reading specific IEP status should have a full eye examination (including cycloplegia), in addition to a comprehensive binocular vision evaluation.