Parents with a struggling student may be quick to assume a learning issue is the cause. However, a vision condition that causes difficulty with eye tracking may actually be what is behind the problems. Understanding what eye tracking means, the importance of this visual function, and how to correct this type of disorder can help parents stay on top of their child’s visual health as well as their success in school.
Why Proper Eye Tracking is Important
Eye tracking, also called visual tracking, is the eyes’ ability to work in sync with each other to accurately follow moving objects. Additionally, this visual skill allows for precise movements from word to word in a line of text.
Eye tracking movements are an essential part of healthy vision and are important in everyday life. For example, some activities that require proper eye tracking skills include:
- Quick scanning for information (while reading or in the world around you)
- Following or catching a ball while playing sports
- Focusing while jumping from one spot to another
- Reading a book
- Writing in a straight line
- Maintaining attention on a task
If a child’s eye tracking skills are not properly developed, it can negatively affect their reading fluency and comprehension, writing and spelling abilities, math skills, test scores and sports performance. Furthermore, this effect on overall academic and athletic performance not only affects their potential grades, but their overall self-confidence as well.
Common Signs of an Eye Tracking Problem
A child may not always realize that they are experiencing difficulty because of a vision problem. However, there are signs to watch out for that can indicate an eye tracking issue.
- Frequently skipping lines or words or losing their place when reading
- Poor comprehension when reading
- Confusing similar words
- Writing words, numbers or letters in reverse
- Reading below grade level
- Rubbing or squinting their eyes when reading
- Frequent drowsiness after reading for short periods
- Using a finger as a marker or aid while reading
- Reduced attention span when reading
- Eye strain or headaches when doing close-up work like reading or homework
- Complains that words seem to float or move around on the page
- Poor or illegible handwriting
- Difficulty playing sports
How to Correct an Eye Tracking Issue
If you notice any of the above signs or symptoms, the best precaution is to get a comprehensive vision exam to positively identify any vision issues. It should be noted that if a child gets results from a vision screening that indicate 20/20 vision, that does NOT necessarily mean that they have perfect vision. In fact, 20/20 vision simply means they are able to clearly see a specific letter on an eye chart at a distance of 20 feet. This standard screening is not able to accurately diagnose a vision disorder, such as an eye tracking problem.
It should also be noted that a child will not simply outgrow an eye tracking issue. In essence, in order to correct an eye tracking problem, you must take specific action. In our experience, the most effective form of treatment for an eye tracking problem is a customized vision therapy program. At Family Vision Development Center, our providers are highly-trained in advanced vision therapy techniques. These programs consist of specific eye exercises that strengthen the neural connection between the eyes and the brain in order to restore normal eye movements.
Contact us at 630-862-2020 to discover how vision therapy can provide an incredible solution to your child’s school struggles. We look forward to helping your child achieve healthy vision as well as reach their full academic potential!
Family Vision Development Center is a full-service vision center offering innovative vision therapy services, post-concussive vision rehabilitation, comprehensive vision exams for eyeglasses and contact lenses, management of ocular diseases including glaucoma, diabetes, macular degeneration and cataracts, and a state-of-the-art optical center offering the latest designs in eyewear.