Improving Eye Tracking with Vision Therapy
Eye tracking issues can make reading difficult, could be the reason for eye-hand coordination issues, and even inhibit a child's ability to succeed in school. Vision therapy treats the source of the problem, improving your ability to keep your eyes on the ball or remember what you read.
The Impact of Eye Tracking Issues
Poor tracking skills affect every aspect of your life. If your eyes can't follow moving objects or the words on a page easily, you may experience a few of these problems:
- Reading Difficulties. Do you ever use your finger or a ruler to keep your place when reading? Eye tracking problems make it difficult to keep your place, as words seem to move on the page. People with eye tracking issues may skip entire lines or words when reading, make spelling errors, reverse letters, or struggle to copy information correctly. In some cases, eye tracking problems can be mistaken for dyslexia.
- Frequent Errors. Your child may make errors in homework or on tests, despite understanding the material. You might find yourself making mistakes on reports or tasks at work, even though you aren't careless.
- Reading Comprehension Issues. It's difficult to remember and understand what you read when reading is a struggle. In fact, you may forget what you read almost as soon as you finish reading.
- Math Problems. Jumping or reversed numbers or hard-to-read word problems may affect math grades if your child has eye tracking issues.
- Fatigue. Reading is an exhausting experience when words and letters won't stay still.
- Sports Performance Problems. Watching and playing sports may not be as enjoyable due to eye tracking issues. While everyone else is talking about that amazing play, you may be wondering where the ball went. The inability to track the ball or other players' movements make it hard to play sports well.
Eye tracking issues can be caused by several vision problems, including:
- Convergence Insufficiency (CI). CI occurs when the eyes don't work well together when focusing on close tasks. Normally, both eyes turn inward slightly to improve your focus on close objects. If you have convergence insufficiency, one eye may turn more than the other, leading to focusing and tracking problems.
- Nystagmus. This vision problem causes jerky, involuntary eye movements that make reading and writing difficult and affect coordination and balance.
- Strabismus. Strabismus (crossed eyes) occurs when the eyes aren't properly aligned. If you have strabismus, the brain receives different information from each eye, making eye tracking difficult. A major or minor alignment issue could be the reason why you struggle with sports or reading.
- Amblyopia. Amblyopia (lazy eye) happens when the brain ignores the information from one eye. This can occur if strabismus isn't successfully treated and may cause tracking problems, in addition to depth perception and hand-eye coordination issues.
- Oculomotor Dysfunction. Oculomotor dysfunction affects your ability to move your eyes quickly and smoothly when following an object.
Vision Therapy Offers a Solution for Tracking Problems
Vision therapy could provide the answer to your tracking issues. Although therapy is often recommended for children, it also helps adults improve reading, coordination, and sports skills.
Conducted by a vision therapist, vision therapy improves visual function and enhances the brain/eye connection. Your vision therapist creates a therapy plan tailored to your unique vision needs after performing a comprehensive eye exam to identify your vision problems. As part of your therapy plan, you'll play games or participate in activities designed to improve your ability to focus and follow objects with your eyes.
Vision therapy offers a fun, effective way to improve eye tracking skills. Researchers who conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis published in The Open Ophthalmology Journal noted that office-based vision therapy was the most effective therapy for convergence insufficiency. Other studies have examined the benefits for children and adults with strabismus and amblyopia.
During therapy sessions, you might play a computer game that involves catching falling objects before they hit the bottom of the screen, pop bubbles, or shoot moving targets. You'll also participate in hands-on activities. For example, you might stand on a balance ball while swinging at colored squares on a swinging ball or place pegs in a rotating board.
Wondering if vision therapy could help your tracking problem? Contact our office to schedule a visit with the vision therapist.
The Open Ophthalmology Journal: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Convergence Insufficiency Prevalence and Management Options, 3/8/2023
American Optometric Association: Nystagmus
Optometry Times: Vision Therapy: A Top 10 Must-Have List
Journal of Vision: Action Video Games as a Treatment of Amblyopia in Children: A Pilot Study of a Novel, Child-Friendly Action game, 8/14