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Treatable Vision Problems That Mimic Dyslexia Symptoms

Parents often come in assuming their child has dyslexia because of issues like reversing letters or numbers while reading or writing. Yet, it might surprise you that what seems like dyslexia could sometimes be related to a vision complication.

According to Dyslexia.org, dyslexia is a significant reading challenge rooted in neurological factors, affecting individuals with average or above-average intelligence, without other substantial physical, medical, or psychological conditions that could explain their language processing difficulties.

Certainly, some of our patients genuinely have dyslexia, while others might have a combination of vision problems and dyslexia. Alternatively, some might solely struggle with vision issues. A thorough functional vision examination can pinpoint whether vision problems play a role.

Three common functional vision issues often mimic symptoms of dyslexia.

Three Instances Where a Vision Problem Mimics Dyslexia

1. Laterality/Directionality Problem – This issue involves an individual’s struggle to differentiate between right and left, leading to letter reversals. Inability to discern right from left on oneself (laterality) often results in an inability to identify these directions on external objects like letters and numbers.

Most children in the first grade or below haven’t yet mastered directionality skills. This is why you might observe a young child forming an “L” shape with their hands to differentiate their left from their right.

However, as a child progresses to the second grade, they should typically have acquired directionality skills. If confusion between left and right persists, they may encounter difficulty distinguishing similar letters, such as confusing “b’s” with “d’s” or “p’s” with “q’s.”

2. Visual Fatigue – When a child’s eyes become fatigued, they often read at a notably slower pace, a common sign resembling dyslexia. Intermittent strabismus stands as one among various vision issues triggering eye fatigue.

Convergence Insufficiency denotes a vision complication where one or both eyes occasionally lose alignment, exacerbated by visual strain or when the individual is fatigued or unwell.

A child with this condition can maintain eye alignment given sufficient energy. However, for individuals with convergence insufficiency, sustaining eye alignment demands significant effort, particularly towards the day’s end when eye fatigue sets in.

At this stage, they might undergo severe eye exhaustion, leading to performance setbacks like reading a word on one page but struggling to read it again on the next. Other functional vision problems like excessive convergence and intermittent strabismus can yield similar effects.


3. Poor Control of Eye Movements –  The characteristic of choppy reading often associated with dyslexia can frequently stem from functional vision issues rather than solely dyslexia itself.

Among these vision-related challenges is the lack of precise control over eye movements, resulting in choppy reading marked by skipping lines and words.

A prevalent belief concerning dyslexia is that individuals struggle with grasping words like “the” and “it” because they are abstract and tough to visualize. However, in certain instances, inadequate eye movements can lead to the omission of these small words, consequently impacting comprehension abilities.


How Does Vision Therapy Treat Vision Problems?

Distinguishing between dyslexia and functional vision problems, especially when their symptoms overlap, can be challenging. Assessing the root cause of a child’s reading difficulties often requires professional evaluation by specialists in both dyslexia and vision therapy.

To differentiate, a comprehensive evaluation is necessary. Dyslexia assessments typically involve testing reading skills, linguistic abilities, and cognitive processing. On the other hand, vision therapy assessments focus on examining eye movements, coordination, and how the eyes process information.

Collaboration between professionals from both fields might be beneficial, as they can pinpoint specific issues through their respective assessments. Sometimes, a child might even experience both dyslexia and a vision problem simultaneously, requiring tailored interventions addressing each issue.

It’s crucial to consult with professionals experienced in dyslexia and vision therapy to ensure accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. This multidisciplinary approach offers the best chance of understanding and addressing the underlying causes of a child’s reading difficulties.


Determining the issue requires a Neuro-Developmental Vision Evaluation by Our Vision Specialist, which lets us identify vision problems in a person. Only testing allows us to determine or rule out if a vision problem is the cause of your child’s reading problems.


Adult Vt To Correct Strabismus And Surgery

Adult Vt To Correct Strabismus And Surgery

Born with strabismus, the author had several surgeries as a child that initially improved their condition. However, during adolescence, their eye turn worsened due to stress and affected their self-esteem. A botched surgery in adulthood further worsened their condition, causing double vision and limited eye movement. After discovering Vision Therapy, they began treatment which was initially slow but eventually led to significant improvements. The author wishes they had been taught resilience, self-worth, and trust in non-invasive healing methods earlier in life. They are grateful for the support from professionals and communities dealing with similar challenges.



Achromatopsia (ACHM) is total color blindness caused by genetic changes in retinal cones, leading to blurry vision, light sensitivity, and lack of color perception.