Do you know? Optometrists can help "dyslexic" children. They may prescribe eye exercises or glasses if the child has vision problems, but a regular eye examination may not suffice. Research by the British Medical Research Council confirms the need for a series of specialised tests to pick up an underlying condition (Visual Stress) that can affect reading. The research also shows that precision coloured lenses are a useful remedy in visual stress. An expert panel will speak on the topic "Vision and Learning" in singapore on 3 March 2012.
27 FEB 2012 – SINGAPORE Vision-related problems affect 10 percent of children who struggle to read. This includes Visual Stress, a photosensitive condition that affects the visual cortex and hinders reading. This is also known as ‘Meares-Irlen syndrome’. Research by the British Medical Research Council (MRC) showed that lenses can be carefully tinted to a precise colour to help alleviate the symptoms that derives from hyper-excitability of neurons in the brain.
This is new to people in Singapore, but these lenses have been used worldwide since 1990s. Today, in excess of 500 British community optometrists and hospitals prescribe precision coloured lenses using an Intuitive Colorimeter to accurately measure the optimum coloured filter. It may also be useful for people suffering from photosensitive migraines and photosensitive epilepsy.
The lenses are already funded by the UK government under the Student Disability Allowance for students in higher education. Recently, the British Minister for Education, Ms Sarah Teather, instructed the Department of Education to ensure that all Special Educational Needs Coordinators, throughout the UK, provide coloured overlays in the classroom for children who struggle to read.
The foremost expert in this field, Professor Bruce Evans, will be speaking in Singapore on “Vision and Learning”. Professor Evans is the Director of Research at the Institute of Optometry in London, and a visiting professor at both City University London and the London South Bank University. The other speakers are Ms Christine Fitzmaurice, spokesperson from the International Institute of Colorimetry, and a local optometrist Mr Yap Tiong Peng from IGARD Group.
Trained in the UK, Mr Yap has been prescribing the coloured filters to a very particular group of dyslexic children who suffer from visual stress. Some of them may report the words moving or shimmering on the page. It can also occur in children who are not dyslexic. He said, "Problems with the eyesight is not the cause of dyslexia, but certain visual problems occur more often in dyslexia and these may contribute to the reading difficulty". Professor Evans revealed that nearly 40-50 percent of people who have dyslexia have visual stress.
"Not all dyslexic people have these visual problems, but some have visual anomalies without realising it. And, not everyone requires coloured filters", revealed Mr Yap. He said that dyslexia is best tested by a registered educational psychologist or a specialist teacher, but it is vital that anyone who struggles to read should also undergo full vision testing, including functional tests in Binocular Vision and Visual Stress”. According to Ms Fitzmaurice, the diagnostic process of identification of Visual Stress will not normally be picked up in a general eye examination, but will certainly be identified by a paediatric or community optometrist who deals with learning-related vision problem and who is trained to diagnose Visual Stress.
The most common visual problems in dyslexia are the reduced ability to focus close up and a poor or unstable coordination of the two eyes. Hence, there is a series of specialised tests for detecting the problems in Binocular Vision and also Visual Stress.
Mild visual distortions arising from the conditions may slow reading and may also discourage children from prolonged reading. Even good readers and those with ‘mild’ learning difficulties can also unknowingly suffer from Visual Stress. In the run-up to school exams, they may complain of headaches, eyestrain or discomfort when coping with a volume of reading.
The expert panel will be conducting two lectures:
Professor Bruce Evans will officiate the grand re-opening of IGARD Optometry Centre at 51 Cuppage Road #01-04 on 2 March 2012 at 6pm. This is the largest private full scope optometry practice in Singapore, spanning the practice of general optometry, optical (spectacles/contact lenses), low vision, orthokeratology, myopia control, binocular vision (orthoptics), neuro-optometric rehabilitation, vision therapy and physiotherapy. IGARD was previously at International Building on the ground floor and level 11 since 2004. They operate in Singapore under the company "Paediatric Optometry Pte Ltd". The Director of Paediatric Optometry is Yap Tiong Peng BSc(Hons) Optom UMIST MSc Imperial DIC London, and the other optometrists in the team are Mandy Lai BOptom(Hons) UNSW Australia, Evelyne Saysana BOptom MOptom UNSW Australia, Rachel Kelly BSc(Hons) Optom Glasgow MSc London MCOptom London, Monica Lim BOptom University of Melbourne, and Valerie Lui DipOptom.
Christine Fitzmaurice is the spokesperson of the International Institute of Colorimetry - a non-profit independent body that aims to raise the awareness for the early diagnosis of Visual Stress. She is the first link to the UK government and set the agenda with MPs and civil servants in the UK. Others involved are internationally renowned researcher and designer of the Intuitive Colorimeter, Professor Arnold Wilkins (Department of Psychology, University of Essex) and Dr Peter Alien (Department of Optometry, Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge).
Vision, Health, Education, Dyslexia
More information at www.igard.com.sg