Dyslexia is one of, if not the most, common learning disability, and affects on average 1 in 20 people. But what actually is it?

Dyslexia is defined as the general term for disorders which create difficulty in the ability to read or interpret letters, words or other symbols, as well as having several other frequently associated symptoms, such as difficulty distinguishing between left and right, confusion in understanding written instructions, and poor handwriting. Despite this, it is widely believed that dyslexia can affect almost anyone, and has no impact on general intelligence, although those with undiagnosed dyslexia may struggle in school due to a lack of support, and this can commonly be incorrectly misinterpreted as having low intelligence rather than anything else.

Recently a French study made an exciting discovery that suggests the cause of dyslexia may lie within the internal structure of the eye. It is believed that for non dyslexics, the light-receptor cells on our eyes are arranged asymmetrically – that is to say that the pattern in which the cells are arranged is different on each eye. This is why, like with our hands and feet, one of our eyes can be considered the dominant eye. However, in dyslexics, the pattern of cells appears to be arranged symmetrically, creating a mirror image which confuses the brain. Whilst more research is needed to conclude whether this is truly the root of dyslexia, and moreover to establish why this abnormal arrangement of cells occurs, this new piece of information could eventually lead to medical treatment for dyslexia, potentially enabling people to be cured from it. Having never quite understood dyslexia, I always assumed that it was caused by the absence of a connection in the brain, and never once considered that it could have a physiological cause.

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