Reading requires very fine eye movements to be made.

As well as fixating and following along a line of text, children must also be able to make the fine adjustment needed to read to the end of one line, then accurately find the next one down to begin reading.

Our central and peripheral visual systems help control eye tracking. Our central vision processes what we are seeing in clear detail and defines what we are looking at. Our peripheral (or side vision) locates surrounding objects and lets us know where to look. In reading, the central vision processes the word, while our side vision locates the following word and tells us where to aim our eyes next.

Unlike convergence and accommodation which develops very early in an infant’s life (e.g., crawling), fine eye tracking skills do not actually mature until they are around 5 years of age. As developmental milestones, some children may take longer until they learn these skills. However, if they do not track well by the time they are 7 years old, this is when reading may be affected.

Signs and Symptoms Your Child May Have Eye Tracking Problems Include...

  • Moving head excessively when reading
  • Frequently losing their place when reading
  • Skipping lines when reading
  • Using finger or a ruler to keep place
  • Poor reading comprehension
  • Short attention span

Why Should Parents Be Concerned?

Reading is one of the best ways to learn. If the slow pursuit movements or fast saccadic “jump” movements that are necessary for reading are not accurate, there can be very visible ramifications especially on your child’s ability to learn.

If you child has poor eye tracking, it won’t be unusual for them to lose their place, skip words or whole lines, start reading a word out from the middle or jumble letters in a fashion similar to someone with dyslexia. Some children may be forced to use their fingers or a ruler to follow the line because their eyes can’t.

Learning to read or reading to learn will be difficult when the words/letters will not be seen in the order that they need to appear. You may notice your child avoiding reading, but it’s not because they dislike it. Poor eye tracking makes them susceptible to visual fatigue and exhaustion so they may prefer to do other activities than read.

If your child has difficulty reading, this can impact a lot more than schoolwork. This may also affect your child’s self-esteem and social life and may cause them to question their abilities (like why their schoolmates are better readers than they are, even if they are trying so hard).

How Can We Help?

Identify the Cause of Reading Difficulty

Our behavioural optometrists understand that reading issues can look different from one child to another at various ages. We’ll help figure out what is causing their reading difficulty by our comprehensive eye test, checking whether an ocular movement dysfunction is to blame.

Follow Your Child’s Eyes As They Read

The Readalyzer is an objective assessment tool that can track your child’s eye movements. We’ll ask your child to silently read a short story and check where their eyes aim. Then we’ll ask them some questions to know if they’re reading for content and meaning.

Vision Therapy Exercises

If vision therapy is needed, your child will be given targeted exercises which may include reading and activities that involve eye tracking, all the while being supervised one-on-one by our professional vision therapist in practice.

Help Your Child Retrain Their Eyes

We’ll help your child retrain their eyes to improve the skills needed to track words and objects. Over time you may begin to notice your child enjoying reading and having better eye-hand coordination when playing sports and other activities that involve tracking objects with their eyes.

Does your child have red, itchy, watery or swollen eyes?

Book a Comprehensive Eye Test Today.