True dyslexia is a neurological dysfunction marked by the inability of the brain’s language centers to decode print or phonetically make the connection between written symbols and their appropriate sounds. Not all children who struggle to read; however, are dyslexic. Although the symptoms are similar, the culprit for many may be vision, not a language-processing deficit.

Margaret Livingstone, et al, from the Department of Neurobiology, Harvard Medical School and the Dyslexia Research Laboratory, Beth Israel Hospital in Boston reports that poor visual processing plays a significant role in a large majority of children who struggle to read: “Several perceptual studies have suggested that dyslexic subjects process visual information more slowly than normal subjects. Such visual abnormalities were reported to be found in more than 75% of the reading-disabled children tested.”

A complete eye exam by a pediatric optometrist trained to diagnose and treat vision-based learning problems can determine for certain if vision is the basis of a child’s struggle to read.