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Binocular Vision Dysfunction

Is it a Learning Disability or is it BVD?

Is it a Learning Disability or is it BVD 640×350Parents and teachers have noticed that the number of children diagnosed with learning disabilities (LD) and behavioral problems seem to be growing. Many of these kids have trouble concentrating and struggle with reading and writing, to the point where they can become angry and easily frustrated.

While learning disabilities are a real concern, some children diagnosed with LDs actually have a binocular vision dysfunction (BVD), a condition that occurs when the eyes are misaligned. Being misdiagnosed means that they do not receive the treatment that would help them excel in school.

How BVD Symptoms Are Mistaken for Learning Disabilities

Binocular vision dysfunction has symptoms that are very similar to learning disabilities. Because of the substantial overlap between these two conditions, it’s difficult to distinguish between them without performing the appropriate tests for both learning disabilities and functional vision.

Teachers typically recommend that children who have problems reading and writing, or have trouble concentrating, get tested for learning disabilities and ADHD. It’s only due to lack of awareness that the teacher doesn’t refer them for a BVD evaluation.

Symptoms of Binocular Vision Dysfunction

Binocular Vision Dysfunction is the eyes’ inability to work together as a team due to the eyes’ physical misalignment.

When our eyes work in perfect harmony, the brain is able to integrate the two images sent by our eyes into a single, distinct image. When our eyes are even slightly misaligned, each eye sends the brain two slightly different images, which the brain has a hard time combining into a single clear image. This is known as BVD.

One common form of BVD is Vertical Heterophoria (VH). VH occurs when a subtle vertical eye misalignment is present. This means one eye is slightly higher than the other, causing the eye muscles to work hard to correct the misalignment. The muscles eventually become fatigued and overworked due to the constant eye strain. This vertical misalignment of the eyes can result in a variety of symptoms, including:

  • Blurred vision
  • Double vision
  • Irritability
  • Lightheadedness & dizziness
  • Migraines & headaches
  • Problems focusing
  • Reading difficulties
  • Vertigo
  • Anxiety

How to Treat BVD

The best way to treat BVD is by wearing aligning prismatic lenses. Neuro-optometrists prescribe these lenses to correct the eyes’ misalignment.

Aligning prismatic lenses modify incoming light before it reaches your eyes, allowing your brain to blend the images from both eyes into one image. Your brain is tricked by the prisms in the glasses into believing your eyes are perfectly aligned. This unified image minimizes BVD symptoms by preventing your eye muscles from straining to compensate for the misalignment.

Usually, patients find that their symptoms gradually subside or completely disappear once they begin wearing their prescribed prism lenses.

At , we care about your vision. If your child has been told they have a learning disability and you want to know whether BVD is at the root of their struggles, contact us to schedule an appointment today.

serves patients from Lititz, Lancaster County, Elizabeth Township, and East Petersburg, Pennsylvania and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Collins

Q: How does BVD affect reading?

  • A: Similar to ADHD or a learning disability, BVD can affect your reading. You may find your child rereading for comprehension or having difficulty concentrating, skipping lines or losing their place while reading. They may also find that the words run together while reading.

Q: How common is BVD in children with learning disabilities?

  • A: It’s estimated that up to 50% of children who have been diagnosed with dyslexia, ADD/ADHD and other conditions that impede learning and concentration may actually have BVD and not these conditions. In some cases, children have learning disabilities as well as BVD.