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University Eye Clinic benefits children's vision and reading

24 August 10

Megan Hooley and Optometrist Caroline Wilson

The University of Bradford Eye Clinic has helped change the lives of many children who have been diagnosed with reading difficulties. Often problems with reading are simply attributed to dyslexia and little or no management is offered. Some children are offered coloured lenses but in many cases, subtle problems with the coordination of the eyes go undiagnosed.

Megan Hooley, age 12, struggled at school with reading and writing, words blurring together and the white colour of a page was too bright for her.  Her school tested her for dyslexia and made a positive diagnosis but unbeknown to them, Megan was not in fact dyslexic.

Megan already wore glasses that had a long sighted lens in them and received lots of support from her school including a blue coloured overlay for her work which she found beneficial for reading.

The Eye Clinic at the University of Bradford first saw Megan when she came to them requesting an assessment for coloured lenses.  

The Eye Clinic has a policy in place that they carry out a full binocular vision examination of patient's eyes before they carry out any assessment for coloured lenses.  The assessment looks in depth at the coordination and movement of the eye muscles, as well as the focusing system of the eyes and the interaction between the movement and focusing.

Optometrist Caroline Wilson said: "Many children benefit from coloured overlays and lenses. However, many children with reading difficulties have subtle muscle balance and focusing problems which may not be discovered during a routine sight test. It is important that any patient with visual symptoms whilst reading should have an extended eye examination to look in depth at the muscle control, focusing and co-ordination of the eyes. If any abnormalities are present these may contribute to the inability to read comfortably and easily. If a child has an underlying visual problem, coloured lenses or overlays may initially help with reading comfort but there may still be instability of the eyes which is likely to contribute to reading difficulties. It is important to assess for this."
Megan was found to have a slight drifting of her eyes at near with a mild weakness in the system which the eyes use to correct the drifting. Some simple exercises were given to Megan to do at home which were successful in building up the strength of her eye muscles.
In addition she was assessed for precision tinted lenses using the Colorimeter from Cerium. It was found that a specific green tint helped her to read more efficiently and more comfortably than the blue overlay she had previously used.
Before the assessment, Megan had a difficult time at school and was falling behind in English. She was a very slow reader and found it hard to retain the information. She said:  "I am really pleased and enjoy reading much more.  I have started a new book and I'm now reading for pleasure."
For all her appointments Megan has been accompanied by her Mum, Carol.  Carol, who works for Education Bradford, said: "I am exceptionally pleased with Megan's progress and the glasses have made a big difference to Megan's confidence. The service at the University Eye Clinic has been exceptionally good and I have been kept informed about each step of the process."
It is recommended that coloured lens assessments are repeated at 12 month intervals.  If a binocular vision problem is found, a series of exercises may be required with regular check-ups over a period of weeks or months.

24 August 10

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For further information please contact the University of Bradford Press Office on 01274 23 3089/3084.

Out of office hours call 07879 437996. Alternatively, e-mail or fax on (01274) 236280.