Dr. Bruce Evans, director of research at the UK's Institute of Optometry, delivered a passionate lecture on the role optometrists can play in helping dyslexic children at London's 2018 100% Optical gathering.
While optometrists might not be able to cure dyslexia on their own, Dr. Evans believes proper eye care can significantly reduce a child's dyslexic symptoms. The official title of Dr. Evans' speech was "The Role Of The Optometrist In Dyslexia."
At the start of his talk, Dr. Evans addressed the common misconception that dyslexia is caused by a visual malfunction. Without a doubt, dyslexia is first and foremost a learning disability. Although vision problems aren't the leading cause of this disease, Dr. Evans said visual symptoms could contribute to a child's dyslexia in certain cases.
The main issues Dr. Evans addressed in his talk were related to binocular vision symptoms. Children with dyslexia and binocular vision problems often experience symptoms like blurred vision, tired eyes, and increased headaches.
If an eye doctor suspects a child has binocular vision issue, Dr. Evans suggests enrolling the child in behavioral therapy. He did not, however, suggest optometrists try to cure the child's eye issues with an intensive course of vision therapy.
According to Dr. Evans's estimates, only 15 percent of dyslexic patients have some binocular vision issue. He cautioned optometrists not to diagnose dyslexics with binocular vision issues too quickly because their symptoms could be a result of the additional stress they experience while reading.
One treatment strategy for dyslexics that Dr. Evans believes has a great deal of promise has to do with using apps on digital devices. He is especially fond of using a grey screen background on Kindle or iOS devices to help children read.
Throughout the presentation, Dr. Evans stressed that optometrists shouldn't get in the business of diagnosing or treating dyslexic patients. Even if a child has binocular issues, the role of an optometrist in the treatment strategy will be complimentary to the child's tutoring.
Although dyslexic patients have normal vision and are usually extremely intelligent, they struggle with basic reading and writing. A few common symptoms of this learning disability include difficulty reading out loud and taking a long time to read simple sentences. Current estimates suggest about one in five students has some form of dyslexia.
The best treatment strategy for dyslexia is working with a specialized tutor. Occupational therapists can also help dyslexic patients when they enter the workforce.
This year's 100% Optical was held at the ExCeL London Centre near the Royal Victoria Dock between January 27–29. In addition to lectures, the 100% Optical festival held numerous workshops and a few fashion shows.