Dyslexia and the Eyes

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Dyslexia and the Eyes

Article in Families Magazine

For many years (more than I care to mention!) I have been assessing both children and adults for Meares – Irlen Syndrome.

Meares Irlen syndrome is the name given to people whose condition is helped by the use of coloured overlays.
Recent reports have claimed that coloured overlays do not in fact improve vision, I agree, the coloured filters do not allow a person to achieve better vision, but for certain individuals it increases reading speeds by up to 25%. This is achieved by stopping the print from doubling or moving, removes distracting patterns and colours within the text and helps with tracing of text.. This increases fluidity of reading and overall makes reading a much more comfortable and enjoyable experience.

The science of why coloured overlays work has not yet been conclusive, which does not sit well with a science geek like me. However in coherence with other aspects of dyslexia and other learning difficulties it appears to be related to how the brain processes the information. My research during my honours degree pointed towards a reduction in function of the Magnocellular pathway within the brain which processes basic visual information.
Subsequent research also points in this direction.

So what happens in a Visual Stress Consultation?
Firstly an eye examination is undertaken (if required) to see if spectacles are required and to eliminate any health concerns. Next the binocular visual system (i.e. how the two eyes work together) is thoroughly examined to identify any visual factors that may contribute to visual stress and exercises may be given to strengthen any weaknesses. Finally, a specific reading test determines the best coloured overlay required. The selected overlay is then issued on a trial basis for up to one school term to see if it reduces the symptoms. If these prove to be successful, then progressing to tinted prescribed spectacles is the next step. Further testing for this is required as the colour may differ from the overlay to the spectacles. A detailed report accompanies this consultation.

I recommended that all children, suspected by parents or teachers of having learning issues who report suffering from any visual stress symptoms ie headaches, movement of text, lethargy with reading, tracking issues, should be examined by an experienced Optometrist. Adults also benefit from this service. The consultation is just £45 and is suitable for all age ranges with a reading disability.

If you require any further information on this service please do not hesitate to contact, Downes’ Practice Director Donna on 0131 553 5358 or alternatively drop us an email: info@downesopticians.com

Free eye examinations for all are available at Downes Opticians supported by NHS Scotland.