Last month I discussed some of the latest research about 'rewiring' the human brain – ie, neuro-plasticity. These techniques can also be applied to patients who have problems reading.
Much has been made of the dramatic increase in children diagnosed with dyslexia. Approximately one in five children suffers from some form of reading problem. Dyslexia is actually fairly rare and is a more extreme form of reading disorder. It is not possible to cure dyslexia but it is possible to dramatically improve the reading ability of sufferers. Much has been made of helping children and teenagers but what about adults with reading problems? The proportion of adults with reading problems is also one in five yet most simply accept what they have been told since childhood … there is no effective treatment and they should simply try to manage to the best of their abilities. In reality, it is possible to provide effective treatment for adults with reading disorders. The process simply takes a bit longer than with children. Research into neuro-plasticity tells us patients in their sixties, seventies and older can be helped effectively.
Treatments take a variety of forms and all start with a comprehensive eye examination. A typical NHS eye examination looks at maximising the clarity of what you can see. There is much more to vision than simply seeing clearly. The muscles surrounding your eyes must work in harmony with each other. You need to be able to focus accurately and sustain that focus for prolonged periods when reading. You need to be able to read without losing your place and you need to readily comprehend what you are reading. Ask your optometrist it they can help or ask them to refer to a colleague who can. The NHS does not fund this type of treatment.