Good News For Visual Dyslexics!
While tinted lenses have been used with some success in helping people with the reading disability, dyslexia, a new study has resulted in US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of a technique in which visual dyslexics read with two different colored lenses. Visual dyslexics have difficulty making sense of letters and words that often appear scrambled, reversed or like they’re moving or even missing from the page, but don’t have problems processing word meanings that also may be a part of dyslexia. The two tint breakthrough in visual dyslexic reading issues is credited to British optician, David Harris.
After successfully treating many of his color blind patients using two different colored lenses, Harris wondered if a similar technique could be used to lessen the frustration many of his visually dyslexic patients experience when reading. Along with Dr. Chaahan Zeidan, Harris developed an in-office study of his dyslexic patients in which each patient wore two different colored lenses.
Of the 434 visually dyslexic patients involved in the trial, over 91% showed an improvement in reading over a six month period. The patients tried out different lens color combinations to find the ones that worked best for them. Harris’ system is patented as “ChromaGen” and eye care professionals must be trained and certified to practice the new technique. The science of why using the two colored lenses seems to help slow the movement of the letters and words for many visually dyslexic children and adults is explained by Harris as a matter of speeding up the timing between the eyes and the brain in what is called the magnocellular system.
Magnocells are exactly what they sound like — super-large cells. They carry information from they eyes to the brain and work in synch with the central nervous system (CNS). As Harris notes, in many dyslexics, there is a deficiency in magnocells. Therefore, Harris’ Chromagen technique strives to speed up the interaction of information between the eyes and the brain by not relying on magnocells in dyslexics.
The American Optometric Association (AOA) supports Harris’ approach of treating visual dyslexics with glasses containing a different colored lens for each eye. It has concluded so far that using two different colored lenses, rather than both the same color, may allow a larger number of visual dyslexics to read longer with less frustration and eye strain symptoms such as headaches and watery or sore eyes.
As the situation stands now, it can be estimated — albeit optimistically so — that one in three visual dyslexia sufferers could experience faster, more efficient reading as a result of Harris’ technique. It should be noted too that “Reading” also refers to visually being able to accurately look at a map, or correctly see the numbers on a clock or in a math book, which is why dyslexia can really affect the daily lives of its sufferers.
Symptoms of Visual Dyslexia When Reading:
- Seeing motion — letters or words may seem to jump or float
- Seeing turned around letters — letters may appear backward or upside-down
- Not seeing all the letters or words on a page — some words may appear as having missing letters
- Seeing overlapping letters — text that looks overlapped or squished may make reading impossible for dyslexics
- Restarting sentences often rather than just occasionally — visual dyslexics may lose their place within a block of text several times or more and end up rereading sentences quite often
If you think you or your child may be dyslexic, speak to your eye doctor or family doctor about getting tested for the reading disorder.