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The Healthy Skeptic: Promise of ChromaGen lenses for dyslexia a bit blurry


5 Star


The Healthy Skeptic: Promise of ChromaGen lenses for dyslexia a bit blurry

Our Review Summary

The column allows a manufacturer to make its claims but then turns to a literature search and four sources to examine the evidence.


Why This Matters

Reading is an essential tool in a child’s development.  Given the economic, social, and and academic impact of poor reading skills, it is not surprising that parents will seek out opportunities to improve their child’s skills.

Because dyslexia is “a complex and controversial condition” as the column explains, it is important to scrutinize the evidence for products and approaches promoted as being able to help about half the people with the condition.


Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?


The story explains the cost of the glasses and lenses and that the lens costs could be recurring.  It did not explain if insurance covers this approach.

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?


The story allows the manufacturer to state that the lenses can help about 50% of people with dyslexia but that “the true rate is probably much higher.”

But then it added repeated notes of skepticism from others:

  • “no evidence that the lenses will improve dyslexia”
  • “no scientific basis”
  • “current scientific evidence…is slim”

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Not Applicable

Not applicable.

We don’t know what the harm would be, other than consumers pursuing a costly approach for which the evidence base is questioned.


Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?


The story explains “A search of the medical literature found a single, company-funded study suggesting that ChromaGen lenses could improve the reading skills of people with dyslexia. The study of 47 dyslexics, led by optician and lens inventor David Harris, found that ChromaGen lenses worked significantly better than placebo lenses.”

In addition to the study cited in the story, we found another recent article that showed no improvement in reading skill in 44 children aged 7-12 with Irlen Syndrome (a proposed disorder involving distortion of text when reading).  (Pediatrics. 2011;128(4):e932.)

But, as noted in the “Benefits” criterion above, the story also includes others’ cautions:

  • “no evidence that the lenses will improve dyslexia”
  • “no scientific basis”
  • “current scientific evidence…is slim”

Does the story commit disease-mongering?


No disease mongering.

In fact, the story explained that dyslexia “is a complex and controversial condition” and that one optometrist said “there are different types of dyslexia, and only people who have trouble with visual distortions while reading are likely to benefit.”

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?


The story didn’t settle for the manufacturers’ claims.  It turned to four other sources.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?


The column ended with one alternative suggestion from a professor of opthalmology:  “It would make more sense to spend your money on something that’s proven to help. Like a tutor.”

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?


The column explained that the lenses are marketed on a company website, which also gives a list of providers.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Not Applicable

Not applicable.  No claims of novelty are made in the column.

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?


It’s clear that independent research and reporting was done by the writer.

Total Score: 8 of 8 Satisfactory

Comments (1)

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Terri Thomas

July 29, 2014 at 10:27 am

My son was a pilot study recipient of the lenses. Wow! What a difference! We also provide tutoring. The tutor says he’s another kid. He now concentrates, doesn’t fidget and is less apt to get frustrated. I am very pleased with the product for my son. He actually prefers these glasses to his normal ones. His vision is +6.75. Regardless of multiple expensive optometrist vision, no prescription was helping him with the dyslexia. With these glasses, he now can see the words clearer and doesn’t lose his place when his eyes wrap around the sentences. I highly recommend Chromagen.