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Is Vision Training an Effective Intervention for Dyslexia?
Author: John Kruidenier

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and other organizations have concluded that vision training methods (eye exercises, colored lenses and filters, behavioral vision therapy, muscle exercises, ocular pursuit and tracking exercises, “training” glasses, prisms) are not effective for treating dyslexia or a learning disability in reading. The reason is fairly simple – vision problems do not cause dyslexia and, therefore, vision therapy cannot address (or cure) the primary causes of dyslexia, or the symptoms associated with a learning disability in reading.

AAP has concluded that dyslexia is a sound-based problem, caused because of an impairment in the ability to represent, store, and retrieve the basic sounds in our language that are used to build words. Vision training will not lead to improved reading ability among children with dyslexia any more that it will among children without dyslexia. Reading is taught by focusing on sound-symbol relationships (decoding), fluency in decoding, knowledge of word meanings (vocabulary), and reading comprehension.

Despite the fact that the premise underlying vision training therapies is not valid, and that scientific studies have shown them to be ineffective, the list of vision training therapies continues to increase. The AAP recommends that ophthalmologists not diagnose or treat dyslexia. Children with a learning disability in reading may need to be treated for vision problems, just as any child might, but the AAP suggests that ophthalmologists warn parents against the use of vision training or “ineffective, controversial methods of treatment” that “may give parents and teachers a false sense of security that a child’s reading difficulties are being addressed, may waste family and/or school time and resources, and may delay proper instruction.”