Reading and Learning Difficulty

Reading and Learning Difficulty

panic attack

Childhood is a period of learning and growing, a time in which children become more
familiar with their bodies and capabilities. Along with this discovery process comes a
good amount of clumsiness and awkwardness as children learn to navigate their

However, if your child seems more clumsy than normal or begins to display symptoms
such as car sickness, headaches, trouble reading, and learning difficulties, they might
have Binocular Vision Dysfunction (BVD).

Binocular Vision Dysfunction and Reading & Learning Difficulties

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.

BVD is the result of a slight misalignment between our eyes. While this misalignment can be very subtle, it can make it incredibly difficult for our eyes to send one clear image to our brain.

Here’s what happens when someone has BVD: With two eyes, we are able to see one clear image. This is because our brain is able to merge the images seen by the two eyes into a single image, which is known as binocular vision.

In patients with BVD, there is a slight misalignment between their eyes resulting in their eyes being out of sync with one another, causing the brain to have a very difficult time processing those two separate images to form one clear image.

The result? The brain forces the eye aligning muscles to fix the problem by realigning the eyes. But the realignment is only temporary and misalignment then recurs, which is followed closely by realignment, and the cycle of misalignment and realignment continues. Over time, this places an immense amount of strain on the eye muscles and leads to dizziness and difficulty reading, as well as a variety of other symptoms.

Children are commonly diagnosed with the following conditions when it might in fact be their eyes (BVD) creating the symptoms:

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD):People suffering from ADD and ADHD struggle with their ability to sustain attention.
This makes it difficult to read and to comprehend what has been read. Many children and adults are
being prescribed medications to help them concentrate better, however, the issue with reading and
comprehension might actually be a problem with vision misalignment.

People with Binocular Vision Dysfunction experience blurred, shadowed, or possibly double vision making reading very difficult. They also live with a chaotic visual field, making reading and paying attention extremely difficult. Our young patients often tell us that letters and words “swim on the page” or “vibrate” or “shimmer.” When you are unable to read or comprehend the information you stop paying attention, and might even become hyperactive. Vision alignment achieved using specialized aligning glasses allows you to see clearly without stress and strain and calms the visual chaos, making visual tasks easier. Once you are able to clearly see the words in front of you, concentrating and sitting still becomes easier.

Dyslexia: Dyslexia is often characterized by jumbled letters, trouble with word sequences, and spelling. These same symptoms are found in our patients with Binocular Vision Dysfunction. When the reading difficulty is due to a vision misalignment, aligning lenses reduces the blurred and distorted vision and words can be seen clearly and in order, easing or eliminating the reading disability.

Convergence Insufficiency: Convergence Insufficiency is a vision misalignment condition where bringing the eyes together (converging) is hard to do, leading to an overworked vision system. Because you struggle to bring your eyes together, near-vision activities like reading can be incredibly difficult.

However, many of the symptoms caused by Convergence Insufficiency are also common to patients suffering from Binocular Vision Dysfunction. When the traditional treatments (like vision therapy) do not provide you with reading disability relief, you might actually be suffering from Binocular Vision Dysfunction. The specialized aligning lenses bring images together, making it unnecessary for the eye muscles to strain to bring your eyes together. This allows you to see clearly and to focus on the words in front of you, providing you with reading and learning disability relief.

It’s important for doctors and parents to be aware of the overlap amongst the above learning difficulties and BVD. Having this knowledge can potentially impact the course of a child’s life.

Symptoms of BVD

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

Symptoms of BVD in Adults and Children 14+

There are several symptoms associated with BVD in adults and children 14-years-old and older, which typically include the below. Some individuals experience all of these symptoms, while others experience only a few, such as headaches, nausea, and dizziness.

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

Find out if your teeneager (14 years
old and older) is experiencing
reading difficulties due to
Binocular Vision Dysfunction

Symptoms of BVD in Children Ages 4 to 8-years-old

  • 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 with balance / unsteady walking
  • 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

Symptoms of BVD in Children Ages 9 to 13-years-old

  • Repeatedly bumping into things while walking
  • Having difficulty completing homework due to headache 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 reading difficulties
due to Binocular Vision

How Is BVD Diagnosed?

In order to determine if your child’s 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 child’s 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 evaluation is performed (NeuroVisual Examination) to determine if visual misalignment is present.
  5. If diagnosed with BVD, your child will be fitted with a trial version of their 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.

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

For anyone suffering from 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 child’s vision
misalignment and prescribe them with the specialized aligning lenses.

Your Child’s Reading Comprehension Difficulties and Learning Disability
Could Be Caused By Their Eyes

Watch these videos of BVD patient experiences:

Riley’s Binocular Vision Dysfunction Story: How VSofM can help children with reading problems

Erin’s Binocular Vision Dysfunction: Dizziness and Daily Headaches

Trouble with Reading at School: Avi’s Binocular Vision Dysfunction Story

Watch the Latest Video Testimonials

Daily Stomach Ache, Headache, Nausea:

Christine's Binocular Vision Dysfunction Story

Headaches and Learning Challenges:

Kali's Binocular Vision Dysfunction Story

Years of Daily Headaches, Nausea, and Dizziness:

Cynthia's Binocular Vision Dysfunction
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.