Visual Dyslexia and Visual Processing Disorder (VPD)

“Not all forms of vision impairment come with a guide dog and a white stick.” ~Unknown

I wish I could tell you that it is easy to diagnose dyslexia. What I can tell you is that they have improved the process and added better outcomes with a lot more clarity and that has resulted in more accuracy in adaptive options.

Let’s dive in and learn more about visual dyslexia.

Visual dyslexia have either cognitive/neurological causes and/or optical visual problems. Either way the result is a difficulty in reading. When a person struggles to remember what they saw on a page.

Want to see some visual examples of the distortions people might experience? CLICK HERE FOR EXAMPLES

A visual reading problem diagnosis can be a challenge to get. Often the situations are present from the start, but a child has never seen text any other way, so they don’t know it shouldn’t look the way that it does.

As an observer here are some general signs you might witness from a young person:

  • Discomfort reading from monitors and screens
  • Headaches/migraines
  • Problem forming letters on paper
  • Squinting
  • Poor eye tracking ability
  • Skipping words or lines while reading
  • Text that appears to shimmer or flicker
  • Poor fluency and comprehension
  • Balance and coordination issues
  • Rubbing eyes or blinking frequently
  • Preference to read in low light


  • Letters and objects appear blurry near or far
  • An inability to otherwise focus your eyes


  • Text instability: Letters on the page may appear to move, change shape, flip, snake or slide off the page.
  • Sensitivity to light: Headaches, migraines, sore eyes and fatigue resulting from different light sources.
  • Illusions of light and color: Text might have color behind it, color in the spaces between lines or at the edge of the page.
  • Depth perception difficulties: Problems with balance, coordination and even motion sickness from the difficulty accurately perceiving the depth of words or objects.
  • Style and font: Ornate, small or thin fonts or insufficient spacing between letters, words and lines decreases the ease of reading text.


  • It is not uncommon for a person to have more than one visual issue. 
  • It is not uncommon for a person with other types of dyslexia to also have some types of visual dyslexia.
  • One of the most extensively replicated findings is that, on average, children and adults with dyslexia show a decreased sensitivity to visual motion.

These issues contribute to having reading problems

  • Nearsightedness – Far items are harder to see or blurry
  • Farsightedness – Close items are hard to read
  • Convergence insufficiency- Your eyes don’t turn inward properly while your focused on nearby objects. 

Visual stress: also known as Irlen Syndrome or Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome. They have not narrowed down the part of the brain that causes this to happen. If you want to read a summary what they have figured out, CLICK HERE


  1. Visit an optometrist first 
  2. Visit an optometrist that specializes in Opti calm using color overlays or tinted lenses.


  1. Glasses
  2. Colored lenses: Like sunglasses only with a special tint to reduce visual stress.
  3. Colored overlays: thin sheets of transparent plastic that sit on top of what is being read.
  4. Simple fonts: 12pts or more, clean font with a generous letter, word and paragraph spacing.
  5. Reading program: if the above items don’t help, seek out multisensory reading programs.

The development of brain connections that carry visual information, and the development of connections that carry language information, both contribute in important ways to the development of reading skills that is why just being diagnosed with dyslexia and not knowing the specifics can be only a start to a person’s understanding of best tools to use to adjust and retrain other parts of the brain.


~I have a client that I had watch fall while walking more times than I care to count. It is so connected to this, and she knows it. Her eyes get so fatigued when she was attending college from all of the book and screen time, and she would have no choice but to stop for the day.

~I had a client with eyeglasses that had a red tint in them, and he always liked to say that things were always rosy in his world.

~I know that I have some of these symptoms and I have in the past just sampled different transparent sheets on pages to see if I could feel a difference. I often take text from a website that I want to read and put it in MS Word and adjust the font type, size and spacing and it becomes much easier for me to read. When possible, like preparing to write this, I have website pages read aloud so as to reduce the strain on my eyes and to not be looking at the screen so much. When I get a migraine headache from too much screen and font time, it can take me out for a day or two, so I seek to avoid them.

As an adult it is never too late to be kind to your mind.

Continue to explore and ask questions of the experts in this field and please if you found this information useful pass it along to others.

Many thanks,

JoyGenea Schumer
Business Owner, International Neurodiversity Coach, and Speaker


While preparing to write this article I did some internet research and talked to a few experts. I may or may not have used information from these brilliant and talented people. If you want to learn more about this topic, feel free to check out the locations I researched, maybe it will spark something for you.


Dyslexia tests



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