June Newsletter: Does Vision Therapy Help with Reading Skills?

Pretty woman reads a book.

Does Vision Therapy Help with Reading Skills?

Succeeding at school or work becomes much more difficult when you have a vision issue. Vision problems that affect reading can be subtle and may go undiagnosed for years. Without appropriate treatment, you or your child may face obstacles that make reading a challenge. Vision therapy could improve your ability to remember the key facts in a textbook chapter, improve your reading speed, or make it possible to read an entire chapter in a book without feeling exhausted.

Could Your Reading Problem Be Related to a Vision Issue?

You may be thinking "I can see fine. How could there be a problem with my vision?" Unfortunately, you can still have a vision issue even if you don't need glasses or can see well with eyeglasses or contact lenses.

Good vision is about more than just clarity. When you read, your eyes must work together to scan and track the words on a page and focus on the small print. Any deficiency with these crucial visual skills can complicate your ability to read. Words may jump on the page or letters may be reversed. As a result, you may lose your place easily or develop headaches.

Your brain also plays an important role in good vision. The brain processes and stores the information it receives from the eyes. If both eyes don't send the same information to the brain, words may look blurry or you might see two of everything. In some cases, reading difficulties can be related to the brain's ability to quickly process information and store it in your short- and long-term memory. This can affect your ability to recognize words, letters, and numbers.

Reading problems can cause feelings of frustration and shame. After all, everyone else can read easily, why not you? If you're an adult, you may avoid jobs or hobbies that involve reading. Your child may struggle with spelling words or might bring home poor grades in classes requiring good reading skills, like English, Reading, History, and Social Studies. It's not surprising that visual problems are sometimes confused with learning disabilities. As many vision problems aren't noticeable, a learning disability may seem like the obvious cause.

Improving Vision Skills with Vision Therapy

Poor vision can actually be caused by issues with:

  • Eye Misalignment
  • Communication Between the Eyes and Brain
  • Amblyopia (Lazy Eye)
  • Eye Teaming, Movement, or Tracking
  • Focus
  • Visual Perception
  • Visual Processing
  • Visual Memory
  • Eye-Hand Coordination

Vision therapy, a therapeutic program that enhances your visual skills and strengthens the brain/eye connection, could help you improve your reading abilities. There's no age limit for vision therapy. Although it's often recommended for children, adults also benefit from vision therapy.

Before vision therapy starts, your vision therapist will assess your visual skills with several tests. These tests reveal the extent of your vision problems and help the therapist tailor a therapy plan for you.

Therapy gradually improves your visual skills with a series of activities designed to improve key visual skills, like eye teaming, tracking, and visual memory. For example, a simple matching game may boost your visual memory skills, and Brock string exercises could improve your focusing ability. During Brock string exercises, you'll concentrate on moving a colored bead on a suspended string toward your eyes. Although you may initially see two images, you'll eventually be able to move the bead closer to your eyes without a problem as you improve your focusing skills.

Vision therapists also use a variety of computer games to improve visual abilities. Computer games that involve catching balls before they drop or hitting targets can help with tracking, eye teaming, and eye-hand coordination. If your problems are related to amblyopia, virtual reality games can help your brain recognize images from both eyes instead of just one. A systematic review and meta-analysis published in the Journal of Pediatric Nursing in 2023 revealed that playing specially designed virtual reality games was more effective in treating amblyopia than placing a patch over the "good" eye.

Your vision therapist can also recommend special lenses or simple aids that make reading easier at home or school, like colored sheets you'll place over a book to reduce glare and eyestrain.

Would you like to improve your reading skills? Contact us to find out how vision therapy could help you.


Journal of Pediatric Nursing: Effects of Virtual Reality on the Treatment of Amblyopia in Children: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis, September - October, 2023


American Optometric Association: Resources for Teachers


College of Optometrists in Vision Development: Forward Progress from Backward Letters, 8/5/16


All About Vision: Are Learning-Related Vision Issues Holding Your Child Back?, 2/27/2019


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