Impact of Infantile Nystagmus on Reading

Dr Frank Proudlock, Ophthalmology, Department of Neuroscience, Psychology & Behaviour, University of Leicester

Infantile nystagmus (IN) is a condition that leads to involuntary oscillations of the eyes and has a profound impact on visual and psychosocial function for suffers. However, little research had been carried out to investigate the impact of IN on reading. In 2013, we demonstrated that individuals with IN read relatively well but are acutely sensitive to limitations in font size (Barot et al., 2013). We also found that severity of nystagmus and visual acuity are poor indicators of reading ability. This is because individuals with IN develop a flexible strategy of eye movements in which they modulate their nystagmus to move their eyes across text (Thomas et al., 2011). We are currently exploring the role of head movements in reading in IN.

In order to discover ways of improving reading in IN we explored the efficacy of coloured overlays that can be placed over text in order to assist reading (Barot et al., 2014). Although no objective measures of improvements in reading performance were observed we found more than double the proportion of individuals with IN compared to normal readers subjectively reported improvements in reading using the coloured overlays. We have also investigated ways of improving text and number reading in IN by manipulating text characteristics such as spacing and orientation of text. We found that individuals with IN particular struggle with number reading making many more mistakes compared to controls.
We have also been interested in the effect of amblyopia on reading (Kanonidou et al., 2010, 2014) and also schizophrenia and reading (Roberts et al., 2013).


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About Dr Frank Proudlock

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