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By Sharon Summers, Ed.D.

Vision therapy is a controversial treatment option used with children who have reading disabilities. Vision therapy is most often prescribed by an optometrist, who also offers the treatment at an additional cost.

Decades of research, including many brain imaging studies, tell us that dsylexia is caused by inefficient wiring in the brain. The part of a child's brain meant to handle reading processes just doesn't work right for some children. While vision issues may make reading problems worse for some children, vision, in and of itself, does not cause a learning disability.

Still, some developmental optometrists prescribe vision therapy - with the promise that it will help a child learn how to read.

Types of Vision Therapy

  1. Orthoptic Eye Exercises:
    • Eye exercises to improve binocular function
    • Can help symptomatic convergence insufficiency

  2. Behavioral/Perceptual Vision Therapy:
    • Used to improve visual processing and visual perception
    • NOT scientifically proven to provide any benefits

  3. Myopic Vision Therapy:
    • Used to prevent or correct nearsightedness
    • NOT scientifically proven to provide any benefits

  4. Irlen Glasses/Lenses/Filters:
    • Used to treat visual-perceptual difficulties caused by light and color sources
    • NOT scientifically proven to provide any benefits

Vision therapy used to treat or "cure" dyslexia is not supported by most professional organizations, including:

The Academy of Optometry and the American Optometric Association issued a joint statement explaining why vision therapy is useful in treating a variety of reading problems. No recent research from the past 10 years is used to support their statement, however.

NOTE: An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor (MD) who specializes in the health care of eyes and the visual system. An optometrist is a licensed health care professional who specializes in basic vision screenings, diagnosing certain eye diseases, and prescribing eyeglasses. Both health care practitioners call themselves "doctors", but ophthalmologists have substantially more training and experience.

Dr. Summers brings 30+ years of teaching (e.g. public school, Higher Education), leadership, and consulting to Hand In Hand. She is the recipient of the 2005 National Center for Leadership in Visual Impairment Fellowship. Dr. Summers specializes in conducting independent evaluations for students suspected of having a visual impairment, cortical visual impairments, and for developing visual fluency in students with multiple disabilities. Dr. Summers oversees Special Education consultations for Hand in Hand.

Read More

  • Vision Problems
    Understanding basic vision problems experienced by children.


April 04, 2020


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