This Might Be the Source of Dyslexia—and It’s Not the Brain

Dyslexia, a disorder causes a general difficulty in reading, pronouncing, and putting meanings to words, affects somewhere between 5 to 17 percent of the population. It’s characterized as a learning disorder, so one might naturally assume that the core of the problem is in the brain. But according to a new study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the problem may be somewhere else entirely. These are some other myths about dyslexia you need to stop believing.

As reported by The Guardian, French researchers found that the eyes may be the culprits behind dyslexia. The team of scientists analyzed the eyes of 60 participants, 30 with diagnosed dyslexia, 30 without, specifically honing in on the two types of photoreceptors in the eye, the rods and cones. Rods are responsible for vision in low-light situations, like nighttime, and do not perceive color (this is why colors tend to become dull in poor lighting.) Cones require brighter light conditions to properly take in the surroundings and are used to see color.

The eyes of dyslexic people were observed to have the same defect, a round, cone-free, symmetrical hole in the center of the eye which is meant to only exist in someone’s dominant eye. Essentially, dyslexic patients had two identical dominant images being projected in their head, both battling for the same airtime with the brain. This could account for the so-called “mirror errors” which dyslexics encounter—an example would be mixing up “b” and “d.” These are the other shocking diseases your eyes can reveal about you, too.

The non-dyslexic participants had one eye with the round, cone-free hole in the center of their dominant eye and one unevenly shaped hole with an asymmetrical arrangement of cones. The two different images work in conjunction to create a composite image in the brain.

Since the source of the problem is in the eye and not the brain, this discovery could help revolutionize both the treatment and diagnosing process. An eye exam could find the anomaly in dyslexics and a “magic lamp” used by the research team could use a rapidly flashing imperceptible LED light to cancel out one of the images being projected.

Dyslexia isn’t the only thing your eyes can possibly provide clues for—new research also indicates that a simple eye test may be able to catch autism earlier as well.

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