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  • Writer's pictureEsna van der Walt

Eye tracking: the key to improved reading

The ability to learn and read can have a big impact not only on a child’s cognitive development, but also their emotional wellbeing and behaviour in class. Many children who experience reading difficulties have difficulty with eye tracking, which affects how the brain interprets visual information.


According to Optometrists.org, more than 30% of people diagnosed with dyslexia have an eye tracking deficit. Simple vision therapy exercises can go a long way towards improving a person’s eye tracking ability. In fact, all children can benefit from strengthening their eyes through eye tracking exercises.



What is eye tracking?


Eye tracking, also called visual tracking, is your eyes’ ability to follow a moving object or to track words from left to right in an efficient way. It refers to the way we control our eyes.


A person with an eye tracking deficit does not necessarily have a problem with the sharpness of their vision or sight, but the eye muscles themselves. Eye movements should be quick, consistent and smooth; however with poor eye tracking, eye motions may lack smoothness, causing vision to be jumpy. This difficulty to follow words or objects hinders a person’s ability to make sense of the information they take in through their eyes.



Symptoms of eye tracking problems


Eye tracking problems are more prevalent nowadays because children spend more time indoors rather than playing outside and are more exposed to screen time. They are therefore not developing the visual eye strength they need to succeed at school or sports.


Some of the symptoms of eye tracking problems to look out for in children include:

· Difficulty paying attention in class

· Difficulty copying from the board

· Poor sports performance like catching or hitting a ball

· Resisting or avoiding reading

· Losing their place or using a finger when reading

· Guessing, omitting or transposing words or letters when reading

· Poor reading comprehension, fluency and speed

· Skipping or re-reading sentences

· Tilting their head when reading

· Rubbing or squinting eyes when reading

· Words or text may appear to float or move on the page.



Ways to improve your child’s eye tracking


The best way to treat eye tracking problems is with vision therapy, which includes tailor-made exercises that help strengthen the eye muscles, as well as the eye-brain connection. These exercises train the eyes to move more smoothly from one place to another. In some cases, reading glasses can help relieve eye tracking symptoms, along with the vision therapy programme.


Other exercises or games that can help strengthen a child’s eyes and improve their eye tracking include:

· Drawing and painting

· Puzzles

· Dot-to-dot pictures

· Mazes

· I Spy games

· Hidden picture games

· Flashlight tag.



Conclusion


Many reading problems can be associated with eye tracking problems, however it is an easily missed diagnosis. Eye tracking is a skill that can be improved with simple vision therapy and eye exercises. Every child can benefit from strengthening their eye tracking skills to help them succeed at school and in sports.



Book an appointment with us


If you suspect your child has difficulty learning, reading or playing sports, talk to Tomlinson Optometrists. We can diagnose visual eye tracking problems and design a customised vision therapy programme with eye tracking exercises that will help strengthen their eyes.


Get in touch with us on WhatsApp: https://bit.ly/TomlinsonOptometristsWhatsApp

Book an appointment online: https://bit.ly/tomlinsonbookinglink

Phone 021 797 7291, email kenilworth@visualcare.co or visit us at 278B Main Road, Kenilworth.




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