Can Your Eyes Cause Dyslexia, Reading Comprehension Difficulties, and a Learning Disability?

It may be your eyes:

Can Your Eyes Cause Dyslexia, Reading Comprehension Difficulties, and a Learning Disability?

It may be your eyes:

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Dyslexia, reading comprehension difficulties, and learning disabilities all negatively affect our ability to read and sometimes focus. Anyone who has been diagnosed with one of these conditions or has difficulty reading or paying attention in school or at work knows how frustrating it can be. But what if the cause behind these issues is your eyes?

Binocular Vision Dysfunction, also known as BVD, occurs when our eyes are slightly misaligned and can lead to symptoms commonly confused with dyslexia, learning disabilities,difficulties with reading comprehension, and ADHD or ADD.

Clumsiness in Children with BVD

How BVD Can Cause Dyslexia, Reading Comprehension Difficulties, and a Learning Disability

BVD leads to eye misalignment. The amount of misalignment can be large or small. When it is large, people tend to see two images or have double vision. When the misalignment is small, people struggle not to see double.

Under normal viewing conditions, we have two eyes that are side-by-side, looking directly at the target, resulting in two slightly different images. Our brain is able to transform these images into one clear image. This is known as binocular vision.

However, for someone who suffers from BVD, their eyes are not looking directly at the target - they are slightly out of alignment or out of sync with each other. The result is the brain has tremendous difficulty processing the two out-of-alignment images into one clear image. The brain forces the eye-aligning muscles to fix the problem by realigning the eyes. Over time, this places an immense amount of strain on the eye muscles and leads to dizziness and regular episodes of nausea.

A helpful way to think of BVD is like this: Imagine if one image was misaligned upward ever so slightly that one eye is reading one line, while the other eye is reading the line below. This would severely impact reading comprehension, since the brain would be trying to read words from two different lines at the same time.

This ultimately leads to symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, and difficulty reading, as well as many others. This can result in dyslexia, reading comprehension difficulties, and misdiagnosis of a learning disability.

How Do You Know If You Have Binocular Vision Dysfunction?

People with Binocular Vision Dysfunction often experience a variety of symptoms that can be debilitating and reduce their quality of life. Someone with BVD might have difficulty with reading books or articles, paying attention in class, focusing on work or school assignments, as well as find themselves avoiding social activities or even driving their car.

The symptoms typically include pain, balance and coordination difficulties, reading, vision, and psychological symptoms.

  • Pain Symptoms: Such as face ache, eye pain, or pain with eye movement (symptoms similar to sinus problems, migraines, TMJ problems); neck ache and upper back pain due to a head tilt (similar to spinal misalignment symptoms).
  • Balance and Coordination Symptoms: Motion sickness, nausea, poor depth perception, unsteadiness while walking or drifting to one side while walking (“I’ve always been clumsy”), lack of coordination with symptoms being those seen in patients with MS, patients who have experienced a stroke, an inner ear disorder, or Meniere’s Disease.
  • Reading Symptoms: Difficulty with concentration (symptoms are similar to those experienced with ADHD), difficulty with reading and comprehension, skipping lines while reading, losing one’s place while reading, words running together while reading (symptoms similar to those seen with a learning disability).
  • Vision Symptoms: Blurred vision, double or overlapping vision, shadowed vision (symptoms similar to those seen in patients with MS), light sensitivity, difficulty with glare or reflection.
  • Psychological Symptoms: Feeling overwhelmed or anxious when in large contained spaces like malls or big box stores like Walmart, feeling overwhelmed or anxious in crowds or while driving (symptoms similar to those seen in patients with anxiety or agoraphobia).

If you have seen your primary care doctor or specialist and there still has been no cause found for your nausea and other symptoms, it could be BVD.

How Do You Get BVD?

BVD can be the result of nerve or eye muscle abnormality (a common condition many people are born with, and common in children with reading/learning challenges), or it can develop as a result of stroke, brain injury, concussion, or a similar neurological disorder.

How Do You Fix BVD?

BVD is treated by correcting the eye misalignment using our micro-prism lenses. These glasses bend light in a way that the images seen by your eyes are moved into the position they need to be in, resulting in realigned images. When the images seen by your two eyes are realigned, your brain can easily transform them into one, singular image. Your dizziness, difficulty reading, and other uncomfortable symptoms caused by BVD are significantly reduced or eliminated.

In fact, the average patient will notice a 50% reduction of symptoms by the end of their first visit. Over the next several visits, our team at Vision Specialists of Michigan will fine-tune your lenses so that your dizziness, reading difficulties, and trouble focusing, as well as other BVD symptoms, can continue to improve and maybe even eliminated.

Dyslexia, Reading Comprehension Difficulties, and Learning Disability in Children

Dyslexia, learning disabilities, and reading comprehension difficulties can affect both adults and children. For children, it can result in them falling behind academically in school (delaying their learning), as well as resulting in a misdiagnosis of ADD, ADHD, or dyslexia.

If your child has BVD, the symptoms will vary depending on their age.

Clumsiness in Children with BVD

How Is BVD Diagnosed?

In order to determine if your dyslexia, learning disabilities, or reading comprehension difficulties are the result of BVD, we recommend you visit your primary care physician or a specialist to rule out other causes. If no cause is found for the symptoms, our team at Vision Specialists of Michigan can help determine if BVD is the issue.

During your visit:

  1. We ask you to fill out a specialized questionnaire designed to screen for those who might have BVD.
  2. You will be asked to complete a detailed Health History form.
  3. An eye exam is performed to determine the need for correction of nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism (a common imperfection in the eye’s curvature).
  4. A specialized exam is performed (NeuroVisual Evaluation) to determine if visual misalignment is present.
  5. If diagnosed with BVD, you will be fitted with a trial version of your new prescription. Most people notice a significant improvement in their symptoms within just a few minutes of putting on the trial lenses.

You can expect to spend approximately 3 hours in our office during your visit.

Other Symptoms of BVD

Symptoms of BVD in Adults

There are several symptoms associated with BVD in adults, which typically include the below. Some individuals experience all of these symptoms, while others experience only a few, such as headaches, nausea, and dizziness. These symptoms are also very similar to those associated with vestibular migraines and vertigo.

  • Headaches
  • Migraines
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Anxiety
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Difficulty with balance / unsteady walking
  • Pain in the neck
  • Frequent head tilt
  • Motion sickness
  • Reading comprehension, difficulty reading and learning
  • Dyslexia
  • Learning disability

Find out if your symptoms are a result of BVD.

Symptoms of BVD in Children

If your child has BVD, the symptoms will vary depending on their age.

For children ages 4 to 8-years-old, common behaviors and symptoms of Binocular Vision Dysfunction can include:

  • Poor handwriting (poor spacing, writing letters too big or small)
  • Difficulty reading
  • Avoiding activities
  • Playing with toys very close to their face
  • Sitting close to the TV
  • Difficulty identifying shapes, colors and numbers that are age-appropriate
  • Difficulty seeing the class board
  • Frequently bumping into objects
  • Difficulty catching balls
  • Stomach aches and headaches at school or away from home
  • Light sensitivity
  • Covering one eye to see
  • Anxiety in public places
  • Frequent squinting in order to see

Find out if your 4 to 8-year-old is experiencing reading difficulties due to Binocular Vision Dysfunction

For children ages 9 to 13-years-old, common behaviors and symptoms of Binocular Vision Dysfunction can include:

  • Repeatedly bumping into things while walking
  • Having difficulty completing homework due to headaches and nausea
  • Repeatedly reading the same things over and over
  • Sensitivity to bright lights
  • Closing one eye to make it easier to see
  • Blurred vision when using the computer
  • Blurred vision or tired eyes when looking at the blackboard in class
  • Verbal skills that are ahead of reading skills
  • Frequent blinking

Find out if your 9 to 13-year-old is experiencing nausea and other symptoms due to Binocular Vision Dysfunction

Get Treatment for Your Dyslexia, Reading Comprehension Difficulties, Learning Disability, and Binocular Vision Dysfunction Now

For anyone suffering from dyslexia, reading comprehension difficulties, or a learning disability as a result of BVD, there is treatment. Our compassionate doctors at Vision Specialists of Michigan will complete a thorough NeuroVisual Examination to determine the extent of your vision misalignment (or your child’s) and prescribe you with the specialized aligning lenses. Every person can receive treatment for BVD, as long as they are old enough to wear the specialized aligning glasses (and be able to tell or show the doctor how they feel).

Want to learn more about Binocular Vision Dysfunction?

Watch these videos of BVD patient experiences:

Veteran's Story of Binocular Vision Dysfunction and Triumph over TBI

Soldier's TBI Caused Dizziness and Headaches Until Receiving Aligning Glasses

David's Binocular Vision Dysfunction Story:

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How the NeuroVisual Examination Differs From a Routine Eye Exam


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When It Hurts to Read: Children With Reading Difficulties

It may be your eyes

  • American Academy Optometry
  • American Optometric Association
  • Michigan Optometric Association
  • VEDA
  • Neuro Optometry Rehabilitation Association

Dr. Sandy DiPonio earned her optometry degree from Illinois College of Optometry in 1996. She is a highly skilled and experienced eye care professional dedicated to giving her patients of all ages excellent and compassionate care. She has a wide variety of experience in binocular vision, pediatric and adult eye care, ocular disease and contact lens fitting. She strives to provide each of her patients the best quality of life they can achieve with their vision through knowledge and education of treatment options.

Dr. DiPonio is a member of the American Optometric Society and Michigan Optometric Society.

Dr. Sally Hoey has been practicing optometry since graduating from Michigan College of Optometry in 2001. During her time in optometry school, she developed an interest in binocular vision, culminating in a senior thesis involving binocular vision.

Prior to joining Vision Specialists of Michigan, Dr. Hoey specialized in the diagnosis and treatment of vision-related learning problems as well as other binocular vision disorders. Her other areas of interest include specialty contact lens fittings and treating dry eye. Dr. Hoey strives to provide her patients with clear, comfortable vision while meeting their individual needs at the same time.

Dr. Hoey had the opportunity to provide eye care on an optometric mission trip to Guyana, South America and vision screenings at a local medical clinic. She is a member of the American Optometric Association, Michigan Optometric Association, Metropolitan Detroit Optometric Society and the College of Optometrists in Vision Development.

Dr. Jennifer Place graduated with honors from Michigan College of Optometry in 2001.

Before joining Vision Specialists of Michigan, she specialized in treating pediatric and adult patients with binocular vision disorders and vision-related learning problems, as well as fitting specialty contact lenses and managing various types of ocular disease. She enjoys working with patients with unique visual needs, and she takes great pride in providing all patients with highly customized care.

Dr. Place has volunteered for Opening Eyes, a program that provides eye exams to the athletes of the Michigan Special Olympics, and she participated in an international mission to St. Lucia to provide eye care to those in need. Dr. Place is a member of the Detroit Optometric Society, the Michigan Optometric Association, the American Optometric Association, the College of Vision Development, and the Optometric Extension Program Foundation.

Dr. Mary Jo Ference has been practicing optometry since 1990 upon graduating from Ferris State University- Michigan College of Optometry, and is certified in Low Vision Rehabilitation. She has worked at Sinai-Grace Hospital systems for over 20 years before joining Vision Specialists of Michigan in 2013 to work with binocular vision disorders. Her clinical areas of expertise include visual rehabilitation of pediatric and adult patients who have suffered from brain trauma, injury or disease. She has taught both optometry and ophthalmology residents at Sinai Grace Hospital. Dr. Ference has sat on numerous boards, including Sinai Grace Hospital, Berry Out-Patient Surgical Center, and Seedlings Braille Books for the Blind. She is actively involved in area school districts to provide education, training and access for students, teachers, OT’s and PT’s to eye care service rehabilitation information. Dr. Ference has lectured extensively nationally and internationally.

Dr. Debby Feinberg began practicing Optometry in Oakland County in 1983, upon graduating from Illinois College of Optometry. She joined her father, Dr. Paul C. Feinberg, at Mall Optical Center, which was located in Summit Place Mall.

Since 1995 Dr. Feinberg has been developing the field of NeuroVisual Medicine which is the optometric subspecialty that identifies and treats neurological / medical symptoms that originate directly or indirectly in the visual system.

Dr. Feinberg has been performing pioneering work with Binocular Vision Dysfunction (BVD), a condition where a vision misalignment (frequently subtle) creates difficulties with the two eyes working together to create a single 3-dimensional image, and difficulties with the two eyes following that image as it moves.

The symptoms caused by BVD are not usually associated with problems with the visual system, and include headache, dizziness, anxiety and panic, persistent post-concussive symptoms, gait instability and balance problems, frequent falls, neck pain, motion sickness, nausea, and reading and learning problems.

In 2004. Dr. Feinberg established Vision Specialists of Birmingham, specifically designing the practice to accommodate the needs of the NeuroVisual Medicine patient.

In 2011, the office moved to its current location in Bloomfield Hills and updated its name to Vision Specialists of Michigan.