Dyslexia and Vision

Dyslexia and Vision: Reading Difficulties, Difficulties Reading, or Both?

In the quest to support children facing reading challenges, distinguishing between dyslexia and Vision difficulties is crucial. However, the intersection of these conditions can complicate the picture. This article shares how dyslexia and/or visual conditions can individually or collectively affect a child’s ability to read. We’ll also look at the prevalence of visual motor difficulties in children with dyslexia, offering insights backed by research.

Understanding Dyslexia and Vision

Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These challenges stem from a deficit in the phonological component of language, unrelated to intelligence levels. Dyslexia varies in severity and often requires targeted educational strategies to manage.

Binocular Vision Disorder causing Visual Discomfort and Its Impact on Reading

Visual discomfort, distinct from dyslexia, refers to the physical eye strain experienced during reading while focusing on the text. This visual discomfort often manifest with symptoms such as headaches, eye strain, blurred vision, and skipping words/lines during reading. Unlike dyslexia, which affects the processing of linguistic information, visual discomfort relates to the physical act of seeing and processing visual data.

Signs of Visual Discomfort in Children:

  • Complaining of tired eyes after reading
  • Rubbing eyes frequently during or after reading
  • Avoidance of reading or other close visual work
  • Displaying behaviors that suggest difficulty in focusing on text, such as squinting or excessive blinking

The Intersection of Dyslexia and Visual Difficulties

Research indicates a notable prevalence of visual motor difficulties among children with dyslexia. These difficulties can exacerbate the challenges faced by these children, hindering their reading progress further.

Visual motor skills, crucial for controlling eye movements, play a significant role in reading efficiency. When these skills are underdeveloped, they can lead to problems with tracking text, maintaining focus on words, and quickly shifting visual attention from one point to another.

Research Insights:

Studies have shown that a significant proportion of children diagnosed with dyslexia also exhibit poor visual motor abilities. These findings suggest that while dyslexia primarily affects phonological processing, the added burden of visual discomfort can make reading an even more daunting task for these children.

This dual challenge underscores the importance of comprehensive assessments that consider both cognitive and visual factors when diagnosing and treating reading difficulties.

How Vision Therapy Can Help

Vision therapy, a personalized program designed to improve visual efficiency, offers hope for children facing visual discomfort. By addressing specific visual issues such as e tracking, focusing, and eye teaming, vision therapy can significantly reduce visual discomfort, making reading a less strenuous activity.

Benefits of Vision Therapy:

  • Improved eye tracking and eye teaming, leading to better coordination when reading
  • Enhanced ability to focus on text, reducing incidents of blurred vision or double vision
  • Strengthened visual motor skills, supporting smoother transitions between lines and pages


When a child struggles with reading, it’s essential to look beyond the surface and consider both dyslexia and visual difficulties. The overlap between these conditions means that some children might face compounded challenges in reading. Comprehensive evaluations, including both educational and visual assessments, are vital in uncovering the full scope of a child’s reading difficulties.

With targeted interventions, including educational strategies and vision therapy, children can overcome these barriers to unlock their full reading potential. Understanding the complex interrelationship between dyslexia and vision is the first step toward providing effective support for every child’s unique needs.