If your child is struggling in the classroom, reading below grade level, avoids reading tasks or becomes easily frustrated when it comes to completing homework, they may have an eye tracking problem.
An estimated 25% of children have an undetected vision problem that impacts their academic performance. Unfortunately, many of these children are misdiagnosed with a learning disability, ADHD or dyslexia, when they actually have a problem with their eye tracking.
If you or your child struggles to read or learn, contact Dr. Hopkins & Associates Optometry in Niagara-on-the-Lake or St. Catharines today. Our eye doctor will evaluate your child's vision skills, and if any problems with visual skills are detected, will offer customized activities and exercises to improve vision functioning.
Why Is Eye Tracking Important?
Eye tracking, also called visual tracking, is the eyes’ ability to work in sync with each other to accurately follow moving objects, and precisely move from word to word in a line of text.
This visual skill develops in early childhood and typically continues to improve as a child’s ability to read advances.
If a child’s eye tracking skills don’t develop adequately, it can have a negative impact on their reading fluency and comprehension, writing and spelling abilities, math skills and their overall academic performance.
What’s more, poor eye tracking skills can have a significant effect on test scores, not only affecting a child’s school grades but their self-confidence as well.
Eye Tracking: Pursuits and Saccades
Eye-tracking can be broken down into two different visual skills” pursuits and saccades.
Pursuits are smooth eye movements that allow you to maintain focus as you follow or track a moving object. This visual skill is necessary for reading fluency because it helps you keep your place while reading, allows you to move between paragraphs on a page, and prevents word omissions and substitutions that can influence reading comprehension.
Saccades are rapid eye jumps that enable you to quickly shift your eyes from one target to another. This visual skill is essential for reading fluency, as it helps you move from word to word and along a line of text, smoothly and accurately.
Signs of Eye Tracking Difficulties
If your child is exhibiting any of the following signs of eye tracking difficulties in the classroom, schedule an appointment with The Vision Therapy Centre at Dr. Hopkins & Associates Optometry today for a comprehensive functional vision evaluation.
The most common signs of eye tracking problems are;
- Reading below grade level
- Confuses similar words
- Writes words, numbers or letters in reverse
- Reduced attention span while reading
- Frequently loses their place when reading, writing or copying
- Omits or re-reads words or sentences
- Poor reading comprehension
- Rubs or squints their eyes when reading
- Complains of words floating or moving on the page
- Experiences eye strain or headaches when reading
How Can Vision Therapy Help?
Vision therapy is an effective evidence-based treatment program that strengthens the neural connections between the eyes and the brain in order to improve the visual skills necessary for reading and learning.
Vision therapy utilizes specific eye exercises, specialized lenses, prisms, occluders, computer programs and other techniques to help retrain the visual system.
A personalized program of vision therapy will help your child improve the eye tracking skills they need to make reading and learning easier and more enjoyable.
If your child isn’t reaching their academic potential, call The Vision Therapy Centre at Dr. Hopkins & Associates Optometry.
Our practice serves patients from Niagara-on-the-Lake, Niagara Falls, Welland , and St. Catharines, Ontario and surrounding communities.
Q: Is a comprehensive eye exam the same as a school vision screening?
A comprehensive eye exam is a much more thorough evaluation of your child's vision than a school vision screening. A comprehensive eye exam can detect eye diseases and problems with your child's visual skills, while a school vision screening may miss some of these problems. If you are concerned about your child's vision, be sure to schedule a comprehensive eye exam with your Niagara-on-the-Lake or St. Catharines eye doctor today.
Q: How long does vision therapy take to work?
Some can experience gains very quickly. While in others, the results may not appear for up to 6 months or more. This all depends on the patient, the severity of the issue, the unique therapy regimen and their adherence to the vision therapy program.