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Can Vision Therapy Help Dyslexia & ADHD?

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A young boy sitting at a table struggling to read due to vision problems.

Vision therapy involves exercises and activities to improve visual skills, eye function, and overall vision. While it is commonly used for treating visual problems such as eye strain or lazy eye,  there has been increasing interest in the benefits of vision therapy for individuals with learning disabilities such as dyslexia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Vision therapy can benefit some individuals with dyslexia and ADHD. It’s important to note, however, that vision therapy is not a cure for these conditions. Rather, it aims to improve visual efficiency and processing, which can alleviate certain symptoms associated with dyslexia and ADHD.

For people with dyslexia, enhanced visual processing might lead to improvements in reading and comprehension skills. Similarly, for those with ADHD, improved focus and eye coordination can potentially reduce issues with attention and hyperactivity. However, comprehensive, multidisciplinary approaches are often the most effective in managing these complex conditions.

Understanding Dyslexia & ADHD

Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that affects an individual’s ability to read, spell, and write. Due to differences in their brain structure and functioning, people with dyslexia may have difficulties processing written language. This can result in difficulties with decoding, fluency, comprehension, and other linguistic skills.

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects attention, impulsivity, and activity levels. While people with ADHD may have normal intelligence and cognitive abilities, they often struggle with staying focused, controlling impulsive behaviors, and sitting still.

Both dyslexia and ADHD can significantly impact an individual’s academic performance, social interactions, and overall quality of life. However, it’s important to recognize that these conditions are not the same and require different forms of intervention.

The Role of Vision Therapy

Vision therapy is a specialized form of treatment that focuses on activities using neurofeedback to enhance visual skills. Vision therapy can also benefit individuals with conditions like dyslexia and ADHD by removing their eye teaming or eye coordination issues.

Improving Visual Skills for Dyslexia

For individuals with dyslexia, vision therapy plays a role in training the eyes and brain to collaborate more effectively. By engaging in specific visual exercises, individuals with dyslexia can experience enhancements in their reading and writing capabilities. The targeted approach of vision therapy can contribute significantly to overcoming challenges associated with dyslexia.

Enhancing Eye Coordination for ADHD

Vision therapy can help individuals with ADHD enhance eye coordination and focus. These improvements may reduce symptoms related to inattention and hyperactivity. By honing visual skills through therapy, individuals with ADHD can potentially experience better concentration and attention management.

Complementary Approach to Treatment

It’s essential to understand that vision therapy is not a cure for dyslexia or ADHD. The most effective outcomes are often achieved when vision therapy is integrated with other interventions such as educational support, behavioral therapy, and medication. By combining different approaches, individuals can benefit from an individualized treatment plan that addresses different aspects of their condition.

Accommodations for Dyslexia & ADHD

In addition to therapy and intervention, accommodations can also be made to support individuals with dyslexia and ADHD in their daily lives:

  • Dyslexia—accommodations may include extra time for reading and writing assignments, the use of assistive technology such as audiobooks, or alternative testing formats such as oral exams.
  • ADHD—accommodations may include preferential seating in the classroom, frequent breaks to move and stretch, or the use of a quiet study area. 

Accommodations can help individuals with dyslexia and ADHD fully participate in educational and work environments.

Other Benefits of Vision Therapy

While vision therapy is commonly associated with improving eyesight, it can also have other benefits:

  • Enhancing hand-eye coordination and depth perception
  • Improving visual processing and memory skills 
  • Reducing eye strain and fatigue 

It can also be helpful for individuals who experience difficulties with reading, writing, or focusing for reasons other than dyslexia or ADHD.

A patient with long blond hair shakes hands with their optometrist, who is smiling and holding a clipboard.

Vision Therapy Services at Heartland Eye Consultants

Vision therapy can be valuable in supporting individuals with dyslexia and ADHD. It can improve eye coordination and focus and provide other benefits such as enhanced hand-eye coordination and reduced eye strain. Vision therapy should be used in conjunction with other interventions for comprehensive treatment. 

At Heartland Eye Consultants, we offer vision therapy services to support individuals with various visual challenges. Our team of optometrists and therapists work together to create personalized treatment plans for each individual’s unique needs. If you or a loved one is struggling with dyslexia, ADHD, or other visual difficulties, reach out to us for more information on how vision therapy can help.

Written by Dr. Will Ferguson

Dr. Will Ferguson is originally from Hastings, Nebraska, and graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a degree in biological sciences in 2005. He received his Doctor of Optometry degree from Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, Tennessee, in 2009. From there, he went on to earn a fellowship in the College of Optometrists in Vision Development in 2012.

He states, “there is a growing population of children suffering from learning-related visual disorders. It becomes difficult for these children to obtain information through their visual system, and it puts them at a significant disadvantage when compared to their peers. Children in these situations lose one of the most powerful tools needed to be successful in life…opportunity. Developmental vision care is rewarding to me because it offers people the ability to overcome their visual inadequacies and open the door to a future full of possibility.”

Dr. Will Ferguson is an active member of the Nebraska Optometric Association (NOA). Since graduating from the NOA’s Leadership Institute in 2014, he has served on the Board of Directors of both the NOA and the Nebraska Foundation for Children’s Vision. He is the proud recipient of the NOA’s Young OD of the Year award in 2019.

In his free time, Dr. Will enjoys spending time with his wife and 2 daughters, participating in outdoor activities, attending sporting events, and reading books.

More Articles By Dr. Will Ferguson

Vision Therapy

Vision therapy is an effective, non-surgical, doctor-supervised treatment that retrains the brain and eyes to work together more efficiently. Rather than compensate for vision problems, vision therapy aims to treat and correct the visual system itself.

Discover how we can help you or your child overcome vision problems such as strabismus and amblyopia, and build a greater sense of confidence. Take our vision therapy quiz today!

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