dyslexia-billericayDyslexia affects approximately 1 in 8 of the population, with four times as many males as females experiencing it.

What is dyslexia?

According to the British Dyslexia Association, dyslexia is an umbrella term covering a range of learning related problems.

So what are the symptoms?

(1) Blurring (non-refractive). (2) Movement of the letters and words. (3) ‘Shimmering’ on the page. (4) The words sinking into the white background of the page. (5) Pattern being formed by the spaces between the words and lines, which interfere with reading.


How can dyslexia be managed?

Everyone has a natural transfer for visual information travelling from the eye to the brain (magnocellular pathway). But in the case of dyslexics, the transfer speed is too quick and needs to be slowed down by using coloured lenses (haploscopic filters) of differing wavelengths – to slow the information transfer by differing amounts, depending on that individual’s needs. The haploscopic filters also work to resynchronise the visual information into a format the brain will easily recognise.

It was Professor John Stein of Oxford University Dyslexia Unit that first found that about half of dyslexic individuals would benefit from using coloured lenses – giving clearer text, ease of reading and better word and number recognition.


What management solutions are available?

Whilst there is no single solution to managing dyslexia, the use of special tinted lenses incorporated into glasses or contact lenses has shown to make a huge improvement. It can also help patients who suffer from either Academic Skills Disorder ‘ASD’ (which includes dyslexia and dyspraxia (clumsiness)), colour deficiency and even migraine.

The entire assessment is completely painless – a pair of trial frames are simply placed on the patient’s face. The test for dyslexia is first carried out with no filters in place and ascertaining the ‘words per minute’ score using the Wilkins ‘Rate of Reading’ test. Then the filters are used one by one on the non dominant eye (whilst looking at a reading chart) asking “Is the print clearer and easier to read, with or without the lens?” – until the one is selected which gives the most ‘comfortable’ and ‘relaxed’ view.

The procedure is then repeated for the dominant eye and the ‘Rate of Reading’ test repeated – to see what increase, if any, there is in the ‘words per minute’. The test is then repeated in its entirety without and then with the coloured spectacles to finalise the ‘Rate of Reading’ result. Often the ‘Rate of Reading’ test may not show a marked improvement in the ‘words per minute’ but the individual will notice a significant ‘distortion of the print’ improvement – where “it looks easier to read.”

Once an individual starts to use the filters, they get a permanent improvement as long as they continue to use them in the initial years. They eventually improve their reading skills and can start to do without the special tinted filters as their ability to read improves with education.


Colour Vision Deficiency

For many people suffering from colour deficiency this improvement can be dramatic and life changing: Even the colours they normally identify correctly may seem brighter, richer and more vivid, whilst they may perceive other shades and colours for the first time.

rose-chromagenThe image of the rose was created by a colour-blind individual as a demonstration of how he saw the rose without special tinted filters (right) and with them (left)

Special tinted lenses can realistically be expected to achieve the following:

  1. Improve general colour perception
  2. Make colours brighter and clearer
  3. Allow shades of colour, previously unseen, to be observed
  4. Improve the ability to name colours correctly (especially when assistance is provided in this area e.g. by relatives or friends)
  5. Improved colour vision may also lead to improved safety, for example through earlier identification of hazard warning lights and brake lights on the roads.

Until recently there has been no effective treatment for colour deficiency and sufferers have had to make adjustments in the real world themselves (for example, distinguishing traffic lights by their position on the post rather than by the different colours)

The aim of special tinted lenses for colour vision is to improve colour perception in real world situations – however it is also very likely that scores on colour vision tests will dramatically improve. Colour vision and colour naming in particular, will normally improve rapidly when using special tinted lenses within the first couple of months. With some people, however, the results are more immediate and they are able to pass tests after just a few hours of using special tinted lenses.

The future is Bright

Many famous people were dyslexic, including Leonardo Da Vinci, Thomas Edison, Napoleon, Churchill and Einstein. A lot of adults today did not realise they were dyslexic until the last few years when it was recognised and talked about – but thankfully help is now at hand at Stratton & Stratton Opticians in Billericay for those with dyslexia and colour vision deficiency.

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