Interview with: Walter M. Fierson, MD,
Chair of Learning Disabilities Subcommittee
of Ophthalmology Section, American Academy
In “Groups Assail Vision Therapy as Remedy for Learning Disabilities,” Crystal Phend of MedPage Today reported that the American Academy of Pediatrics and American Academy of Ophthalmology jointly issued a statement calling the use of well-known vision therapies unfounded and ineffective.
SAN FRANCISCO, July 27 — Behavioral vision therapy, eye exercises, and colored lenses have no role in treatment of dyslexia and other learning disabilities, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
The academy came down hard on these “scientifically unsupported” alternative treatments in a joint statement with the American Academy of Ophthalmology and other vision organizations.
The AAP, which has published many valuable statements about Learning Disabilities in the past, made unequivocal statements about the problems with these therapies. In the accompanying audio clip, Dr. Walter Frierson provides good explanation of the rationale for the recommendations.
Learning disabilities, including reading disabilities, are commonly diagnosed in children. Their etiologies are multifactorial, reflecting genetic influences and dysfunction of brain systems. Learning disabilities are complex problems that require complex solutions. Early recognition and referral to qualified educational professionals for evidence-based evaluations and treatments seem necessary to achieve the best possible outcome. Most experts believe that dyslexia is a language-based disorder. Vision problems can interfere with the process of learning; however, vision problems are not the cause of primary dyslexia or learning disabilities. Scientific evidence does not support the efficacy of eye exercises, behavioral vision therapy, or special tinted filters or lenses for improving the long-term educational performance in these complex pediatric neurocognitive conditions. Diagnostic and treatment approaches that lack scientific evidence of efficacy, including eye exercises, behavioral vision therapy, or special tinted filters or lenses, are not endorsed and should not be recommended.
Faithful readers of LD Blog will remember that there have been perhaps a half-dozen posts here on the mistaken (at best) therapies promoted to families of individuals with Learning Disabilities. It is valuable to have prestigious organizations such as the AAP and AAO issue statements that support the observations presented here.
Teachers, psychologists, and school administrators: Please advise the parents of your students with reading problems not to waste time and money on colored lenses, eye tracking and eye teaming, and other similar therapies.
Read Ms. Phend’s report. Download the full statement by the AAP. Visit the AAP Web site, especially its section on Learning Disabilities.