Learning disabilities, dyslexia, and vision: a subject review
A rebuttal, literature review, and commentary
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Background: In 1998, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Ophthalmology, and the American Association of Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus (AAP/AAO/AAPOS) published a position paper entitled “Learning Disabilities, Dyslexia And Vision: A Subject Review,” intended to support their assertion that there is no relationship between learning disabilities, dyslexia, and vision. The paper presents an unsupported opinion that optometrists (by implication) have said that vision problems cause learning disabilities and/or dyslexia and that visual therapy cures the conditions. The 1998 position paper follows two very similar and discredited papers published in 1972 and 1981.
Method: This article critically reviews and comments on the many problems of scholarship, the inconsistencies, and the false allegations the position paper presents. Perhaps the foremost problem is that the authoring committee has ignored a veritable mountain of relevant literature that strongly argues against their assertion that vision does not relate to academic performance. It is for this reason that an overview, drawn from more than 1,400 identified references from Medline and other database sources and pertinent texts that were reviewed, is incorporated into this current article. The AAP/AAO/AAPOS paper is also examined for the Levels of Evidence that their references offer in support of their position.
Conclusion: The AAP/AAO/AAPOS paper contains errors and internal inconsistencies. Through highly selective reference choices, it misrepresents the great body of evidence from the literature that supports a relationship between visual and perceptual problems as they contribute to classroom difficulties . The 1998 paper should be retracted because of the errors, bias, and disinformation it presents. The public assigns great trust to authorities for accurate, intellectually honest guidance, which is lacking in this AAP/AAO/AAPOS position paper.
Key Words: AAO, AAP, AAPOS, dyslexia, learning disabilities, perceptual therapy, reading, vision, visual therapy.