New Dyslexia Study Proves Once Again That Most MDs Don't Understand the Visual Process
They just can’t seem to help themselves. Over and over again people in the medical community find it necessary to attack behavioral optometry and vision therapy. They start off with a made-up premise, such as eye problems cause dyslexia and imply that behavioral optometry says that eye problems cause dyslexia or that vision therapy can cure dyslexia. I have never heard anyone in my profession even come close to such statements, or even such thoughts.
Nonetheless here’s the latest attempt to disprove something that no one has ever said: New findings, appearing online May 25, and set for publication in the June issue of the journal Pediatrics, confirm what medically oriented eye doctors have assumed for a long time, according to Dr. Mark Fromer, an ophthalmologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
Fromer, who was not involved in the study commented, "Dyslexia is a brain dysfunction, not an eye disorder. There are no studies that clearly identify that visual training can be helpful for the dyslexic patient. It does make sense to think something is wrong with your eye if you're not reading well, but there really is no connection between any ophthalmological disorder and dyslexia."
Bits and pieces of Dr. Fromer’s statement are accurate, but taken as a whole it is just more of the same unfortunate nonsense. Let’s take it piece by piece:
1) “Dyslexia is a brain function, not an eye disorder” - This sentence is true. The problem is, nobody ever said it was an eye disorder. He just made that up to be rude to behavioral optometry. Interesting fact: The visual process is a brain/eye function, not just an eye function. (more on this later)
2) “There are no studies that clearly identify that visual training can be helpful for the dyslexic patient” - While it may be factually correct that there are no studies relating dyslexia and visual training (vision therapy), thousands of behavioral optometrists have treated many thousands of people diagnosed with dyslexia. And the vast majority of those people ended up managing tasks that were impacted by their dyslexia considerably better after vision therapy. I have worked with quite a few people who said they were dyslexic and all of them ended up less affected by their dyslexia after vision therapy. In many cases, the learning difficulties that were supposedly a result of the dyslexia disappeared after vision therapy. So the fact is that vision therapy is often helpful for many people diagnosed with dyslexia. Notice I did not say that vision therapy cured the dyslexia. That is not how my colleagues and I interpret the situation. Vision therapy removes visual processing obstacles, which are often misdiagnosed as dyslexia, ADD, ADHD and various other learning related labels.
3) “It does make sense to think something is wrong with your eye if you're not reading well, but there really is no connection between any ophthalmological disorder and dyslexia" - it might make sense to think that reading could be related to an eye problem and it is unlikely that any ophthalmological disorder could be connected to dyslexia. By ophthalmological disorder, one assumes that Fromer is referring to something to do with the actual eyeball itself. Vision therapy has next to nothing to do with eyeballs.
I’m not sure why so many in the medical community continue to deny that the visual process is something that involves much of the brain as well as the eyes. The eyes are actually relatively small players when one considers the full scope of the visual process. Most eye doctors continue to confuse seeing clearly with seeing effectively. In fact, seeing clearly is much less important than having accurate, consistent eye movements, eye teaming and focusing flexibility. Most of my vision therapy patients can see 20/20 with ease but they have trouble with eye movements, eye teaming and focusing. These skills are critically important for visual function. The medical community continues to deny the complexity and trainability of the visual process. They have no sound reason for this, but just cannot stop. This mostly hurts the public who look to these professionals when problems arise.
Vision therapy is a process of training the brain. And since pretty much everyone (including Fromer and his colleagues) agrees that dyslexia is a brain function, what really makes sense is the idea the vision therapy can help people with dyslexia. Vision therapy neither causes nor cures dyslexia. It does however help people with dyslexia and all other types of learning problems make better use of the visual process. This is all behavioral optometry has ever claimed: Vision therapy helps people improve their ability to process visual information for learning, earning, sports and recreational activities.