Dyslexia is a learning disorder characterized by difficulty reading and it could affect up to 15 percent of the U.S. population.
There’s no cure, but now more and more people are finding new ways to deal with their diagnosis using ChromaGen lenses. Although cleared by the FDA for use with reading problems including visual dyslexia — the International Dyslexia Association says dyslexia cannot be treated with visual aids, but there is one student who swears by her new glasses.
Hailey Cain can barely make out the words in this book. She says the letters overlap, swim around and pop out.
“I was reading really low and sometimes people would make fun of me,” Hailey told Ivanhoe.
In third grade, Hailey was reading at a kindergarten level. Then she was diagnosed with dyslexia, impulses traveling from her eyes to the brain were not in sync between her two eyes. Teacher Cheryl Tullis tried everything — almost everything.
“I just couldn’t justify teaching her phonics again for another 180 days when she had already done four years of school,” Tullis, a teacher at Shore Acres Elementary School in St. Petersburg, Florida, told Ivanhoe.
So, Tullis told Hailey’s mom Telsea to try specialty tinted lenses called ChromaGen lenses.
“I was skeptical in the beginning myself,” Telsea Galbraith, Hailey’s mom, told Ivanhoe.
The lenses keep the words from popping out of the page and overlapping each other.
“I saw my daughter go from being somewhat reclusive and not having any self-esteem to being able to pick up a book like a regular classmate and start to read,” Galbraith said.
After Hailey got the lenses in January, she jumped from reading 30 words per minute at a kindergarten-level to 60 words per minute at a second-grade level.
“She doubled her score. She hit the 60s for words per minute,” Dr. Victoria Melcher, an optometrist at Eye Designs Visions, told Ivanhoe.
Melcher says ChromaGen is a series of colored filters that change the wavelength of light entering the eye.
“The information reaching the brain is synchronized between the two eyes,” Melcher said.
Now, 11-year-old Hailey can finally read a book that’s meant for her, not a 5-year-old.
The ChromaGen lenses can cost about $800 and they are typically not covered by insurance.