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Dyslexia possibly caused by treatable eye deformity

Doctors may be able to diagnose and treat dyslexia by looking into patients' eyes, a French study suggests. (Source: Pixabay) Doctors may be able to diagnose and treat dyslexia by looking into patients' eyes, a French study suggests. (Source: Pixabay)

(RNN) - French scientists believe they have discovered a cause for dyslexia in the eyes of test subjects, and have developed a possible treatment using an LED lamp.

“Our observations lead us to believe that we indeed found a potential cause of dyslexia,” Professor Guy Ropars, the study's co-author told the Agence France Presse (AFP) news agency. 

The announcement came in October 2017, which is Dyslexia Awareness Month.

Dyslexic people have difficulty reading and writing – when they look at a page they see bunches of out-of-order, distorted letters. It affects 5 to 10 percent of the world’s population.

The study, which included a cohort of 30 dyslexic and 30 non-dyslexic people, may have found a physiological cause that can be easily diagnosed by looking into people's eyes.

In dyslexic people, certain light-receptor cells are arranged in identical patterns in the center of both eyes. 

In non-dyslexic people, the cells are asymmetrical, according to the study published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

“The lack of asymmetry might be the biological and anatomical basis of reading and spelling disabilities,” the authors wrote.

Just as people are either right- or left-handed, most people have a dominant eye. Most people are right-eyed. The dominant eye has more receptors than the other, and sends a better image to the brain. The asymmetrical images allow the brain to choose easily. Non-dyslectic people see only one version of the visual scene. 

But dyslexic people don't have a dominant eye. The brain has to constantly switch back and forth between the two images, causing confusion and distortion.

Dyslexic people therefore make “mirror errors,” such as confusing the letters “b” and “d,” the researchers told The Guardian.

They also found something else that might lead to a treatment that was effective in early trials.

There is a delay of a 10 thousandth of a second between the primary image and the mirror image in opposing hemispheres in the brain.

The scientists used an LED lamp that flashes so fast that it is invisible to the naked eye. It canceled out one of the mirror images and erased the confusion in trial subjects, who called the device the "magic lamp."

It needs further testing, Ropars said, but the findings are promising.

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