Child learning disabilities: experts dismiss tinted glasses

7 August 2009

Vision therapies such as behavioural optometry and the use of tinted lenses have no place in treating dyslexia or related learning disabilities, experts say.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Ophthalmology last week issued a joint policy statement calling for dyslexia to be treated as a language-based disorder arising from brain abnormalities, and not from visual disorders (Pediatrics 2009; 124: 837-44).

Gold Coast paediatrician Dr Doug Shelton, past chair of the child development specialist interest group of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, said the American statement was in line with current best practice in this country.

‘Most paediatricians, particularly those in child development… would agree wholeheartedly that coloured lenses are a waste of time and money [for dyslexia],’ he said.

‘In recent years behavioural optometry has grown [in popularity] but it falls in a similar category.’

There was no evidence that behavioural optometry, including eye exercises designed to control quick jumping eye movements called saccades, resulted in better reading or comprehension, the US statement said.

Students with dyslexia required highly structured, intensive, individualised instruction by a therapist trained in teaching phonics, the academics said.

‘Ineffective, controversial methods of treatment such as vision therapy may give parents and teachers a false sense of security that a child’s learning difficulties are being addressed, may waste family and/or school resources, and may delay proper instruction or remediation.’

Dr Shelton said parents understandably were interested in exploring any options that appeared to offer a solution to a serious problem in their child’s development.


 
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