98% of Struggling Readers have a Vision Problem

Our study of pupils who are behind in reading, found 98% have a vision problem. They find it difficult to sustain convergence.

Convergence is the ability to focus both eyes on the same point. We need to sustain convergence the entire time we read to see the print clearly.

Opticians don’t test for this. So, sadly it remains undetected.

For the 30% of struggling readers who only have this easily treatable vision problem, more phonics lessons won't help. Instead they just need to learn to control their eye movements.

Symptoms of Poor Convergence

Pupils with poor convergence may:

  • Reverse 'b's and 'd's
  • Skip lines and words
  • Say that the letters move or are blurry
  • Read slowly
  • Have poor spelling
  • Have difficulty copying from the board
  • Refuse to read out loud
  • Not understand what they have read
  • Get tired, headaches or sore eyes from reading
  • Need coloured overlays to read

When children with poor convergence read, each eye looks at a different letter. This may make words look blurry or letters appear to move as the brain alternates between images.

Pupils with poor convergence will find spelling hard. They don’t see the letters clearly when they read, so they can't visualise the word later.

Comprehension is also difficult. Their brain is overloaded, trying to decipher what it's seen. There’s very little processing power left to remember or understand it.

Poor Eye Control

Poor convergence also causes erratic eye movements. Eyes wobble when reading, so they can’t track smoothly across the page.

A fluent reader looks at around 150 points per minute when they read. Struggling readers look at around 1,000 points per minute.

Most of the time they are looking at the wrong word. This video shows Abby's erratic eye movements when she read. No wonder she didn't understand it.



Watch where Abby's eyes are looking when she reads

How can schools help?

Pupils can play Engaging Eyes, a vision training program. Suitable for children aged 7 - 14 who struggle with reading or spelling.

They play games that strengthen their eye muscles, learning how to focus both eyes on the same letter and track across the page.

Target Practice is a 3D game which improves convergence. We provide you with 3D glasses.

Whack an Alien improves rapid eye movements. Pupils need to whack they aliens as they appear.

Engaging Eyes improves reading speed, accuracy, spelling and comprehension.

Engaging Eyes is easy to play in school as pupils work independently and it only takes 10 minutes a day.

Dyslexia Gold Results

Ten Year 5 pupils were selected to play Engaging Eyes and Fluency Builder every day for a term. The pupils enjoyed playing and they really noticed how much their reading improved.

After playing for a term on average reading age improved by 13 months, and reading speed by 45%. (Note the reading test used had a maximum of 10:2, so some of the children may have had an even higher reading age.)

Pixmore Junior School, Hertfordshire

Chronological Age Initial Reading Age Improvement
9y 10m 4y 10m 6 months
10y 1m 7y 9m 22 months
9y 6m 7y 8m 15 months
9y 4m 8y 4m 15 months
10y 0m 8y 7m 19 months
9y 5m 8y 9m 17 months
9y 7m 8y 9m 17 months
9y 4m 9y 1m 13 months
9y 9m 9y 5m 9 months
10y 2m 9y 9m 5 months

Five P5 Pupils with reading difficulties played Engaging Eyes for a term, and then Fluency Builder for the next term. The pupils were selected because they were over a year behind with their reading.

During this period they received were on no other interventions to improve their reading.

St Ninians Primary School, Edinburgh, Scotland

Chronological Age Initial Reading Age Improvement
10y 1m 5y 6m 17 months
9y 8m 7y 2m 46 months
9y 10m 7y 4m 44 months
9y 10m 6y 7m 25 months
10y 6m 7y 4m 44 months

What is most impressive about these results is that all pupils made progress.