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Ophthalmologists condemn Channel 7 report on behavioural optometry

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO) has today reacted to the recent Channel 7 News report on behavioural optometry, condemning the coverage for failing to acknowledge the lack of research and evidence to support the practice. “Primary dyslexia and learning disabilities are complex neurocognitive conditions and are not caused by vision problems. There is no evidence to suggest that eye exercises, behavioural vision therapy, or special tinted filters or lenses improve the long-term educational performance of people affected by dyslexia or other learning disabilities,” said RANZCO President A/Prof Mark Daniell.

“It is irresponsible to promote behavioural optometry to treat these conditions without letting people know that it is an unproven practice. Parents of children with dyslexia and other learning disabilities want to do what’s best for their children and it is unfair to give them false hope in expensive treatments and aids for which there is no evidence.”

In an article in RANZCO’s members’ magazine Eye2Eye last year, Prof Frank Martin et al examined the role of ophthalmologists in the management of dyslexia. The article highlighted the need for management of dyslexia and learning disability to be based on science, “not on arbitrary and capricious dogma” and pointed out that there is no credible evidence to support claims for treatment that is not based on appropriate remedial reading intervention. The article concluded that that “As doctors, ophthalmologists have a responsibility to help families make the best use of limited resources. We should steer families away from unproven interventions that consume resources and thus interfere with the implementation of proven methodologies such as educational and language based therapy.”

RANZCO supports and concurs with the joint statement on learning disabilities, dyslexia, and vision by the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus (AAPOS) [i].Joint Statement: Learning Disabilities, Dyslexia, and Vision is a comprehensive policy document and states that “It is important that any therapy for learning disabilities be scientifically established to be valid before it can be recommended for treatment.” and goes on to say that “…the evidence does not support the concept that vision therapy or tinted lenses or filters are effective, directly or indirectly, in the treatment of learning disabilities.”  

For more information or to arrange an interview contact Emma Carr at RANZCO on 61 2 9690 1001 or at media@ranzco.edu


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[i] The full Joint Statement, Joint Statement: Learning Disabilities, Dyslexia, and Vision, can be viewed at https://www.aao.org/clinical-statement/joint-statement-learning-disabilities-dyslexia-vis