Indicators of Dyscalculia Series
by Jan Thomson-Long
The eyes have it!
“The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.” – Helen Keller.
Sight is amazing! Anyone who wears glasses understands that all too well. I remember getting my first pair and all of a sudden I could see leaves on trees again. I’d lost the detail as my eyesight deteriorated without me realising.
To read we need to see the words on the page. If a child is struggling to learn to read, then one of the first things to check is their eyesight. That might be just a standard opticians visit but they don’t check for all the problems that there can be with vision. A good optician will refer you on if they suspect that there might be other difficulties that they’re unable to screen for. One such difficulty is visual stress.
Visual stress is where the words can blur or seem to move, perhaps coloured blobs might be seen or double vision. Any of these interfere with the ability to read the text on the page. Such interference can cause headaches, tiredness and eye strain. It is likely to reduce reading speed.
Before conducting a diagnostic assessment I always look to rule out eyesight or hearing difficulties. I often hear stories of well meaning people offering coloured overlays to students who have reported issues with eyesight. Such students will inform me that they’ve been given an overlay to use in lessons and that they have just used it. They will often tell me that it appears to help. What should happen however, is that if having tried an overlay and seen some benefit that the student ought to visit a behavioural optometrist to investigate the actual colour that they ought to use. There are thousands of shades and glasses can be prescribed with the appropriate lenses.
I’ve referred many students for visual stress investigations and then seen the transformation that wearing glasses with the proper prescription for their personal difficulties has.
So by all means try some of the coloured overlays (there are at least 10 colours which can be mixed and matched) and if there is a positive improvement in vision through using them then a visit to a behavioural optometrist who has taken additional qualifications to be able to diagnose and prescribe for visual stress if needed. Please don’t just use the overlays that were available. Eyesight is too precious to not get it properly investigated.