Dyslexia and Myopia

What is the difference between a tracking problem and dyslexia?

Surely it can be cured by wearing glasses?

I’ve been told that coloured filters help …..


There are so many possible reasons why a child might find reading tricky. Reading is a really difficult skill to master, especially at a very young age.

The child may have genuine learning difficulties or may be a late developer. In many European countries, children are not expected to read until they are six or eight, whereas we tend to think that bright children ought to be learning to read as soon as they get to school or even before that.

Everyone will tell you that a child who is a slow reader or has reading problems is suffering from “dyslexia” but I am afraid that word has become such a ‘catch-all’ that it now means very little unless professionally diagnosed by a psychologist using what are called the Weschler tests.

As a psychologist (of all people) joked to me, it has now come to mean “I can’t teach you to spell, therefore you must be dyslexic” and that is not very far from the definition agreed about twenty years ago which suggested that the description ‘dyslexic’ be applied to children or adults who suffered “reading, spelling and writing difficulties with no obvious cause.”

Tracking problems ARE an obvious cause.

Your child cannot learn to read well unless he or she can see the letters and words on a page clearly and in the right order.

This is not always the case and it is sometimes difficult to detect. The child does not realise that his or her vision is peculiar, that he or she is struggling with blurred and confused images which their classmates see clearly. This is hugely frustrating and puts them at a great disadvantage but, in the early years, is often masked by the use of very large print and by the simplicity of the vocabulary in the reading materials that are employed.

Standard eye tests do NOT show up tracking problems and a child with perfect sight may not be able to read easily.

Glasses do not help with tracking problems and nor (normally) do coloured filters, which help to compensate for a completely different type of visual abnormality.

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2 Responses to Dyslexia and Myopia

  1. Where can I found more information on the tracking problem?

    • Dear Peter,

      You asked for more information about tracking problems:

      Here is a list of symptoms:

      Needing to run a finger underneath the line when reading.
      Reading the same line again or skipping lines.
      Losing “concentration” after a short time while reading a book.
      Guessing the letters at the end of words.
      Having tired eyes.
      The words appearing to be blurred.
      The words seeming to float around.
      Needing to rub the eyes after reading for a period of time.
      Difficulty copying words from the black/white board.
      Needing to close one eye when reading (Voluntary Occlusion).
      Feeling slightly queasy when reading for a period of time.

      These are all signs of a student who has an eye-tracking difficulty. A student may have one or two of the above signs but is most unlikely to have them all.

      If your child or children that you know display any of those symptoms, it will be worth having a specialist orthoptist (an ‘eye-doctor’ interested in reading problems) examine the child, comment and perhaps prescribe treatment. Eye exercises can sometimes mitigate and alleviate the symptoms and help a struggling child to succeed with reading.

      The list of symptoms above comes from a web-site with this URL:

      http://www.dyslexia-at-bay.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&id=12&layout=blog&Itemid=15

      There is a video there as well, which may be useful.

      A general search on the web for ‘tracking problem in children’ produces a range of internet sites which look sensible. (Cars have tracking problems too, which can be confusing. Don’t just search for ‘tracking problems’.)

      There is a self-test procedure on one of the pages of this web-site which will help you to rule out tracking problems.

      If your child can read ‘nonsense’ paragraphs of the sort I suggest, he or she definitely does not suffer from tracking problems. But the child or children may perhaps suffer from dyslexia. The symptoms of dyslexia and of tracking problems are virtually identical when a child is very young.

      I hope this helps. Please mail me again through the web-site if you need.

      With best wishes,

      yours,

      John SG

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