In my practice, we recently treated a young girl who, in addition to her vision-related reading problems, was upset that she could not skip rope like her friends. Jumping rope is a gross motor skill highly influenced by the quality of your visual processing. This type of vision problem had nothing to do with her 20/20 eyesight. Giving her glasses wasn’t going to help her jump rope, but a vision therapy treatment could!
Category Archives: Vision Problems in Children
What are saccadic eye movements?
Saccadic eye movements are very fast jumps from one eye position to another. These are the eye movements used in reading or searching. This scanning of the visual field is learned during the first years of life, developing as a child explores their environment. In fact, saccades are the very first eye movements that develop!
How saccadic deficiencies affect reading
These eye movements are critical to success and speed of reading. If they do not develop well, it can result in the opposite effect: slow, frustrated reading. When learning to read the eyes must be able to align and track together (or form saccades) letter-by-letter, word-by-word, and line-by-line. Errors can be made when the eyes lose their place and have to backtrack (leading to re-reading and slow reading). Or instead of moving smoothly they skip around (leading to ‘words moving on a page’ or loss of place when reading and/or misreading words like ‘saw’ instead of ‘was’). When errors like these happen frequently, so much effort is put into trying to coordinate the eyes that reading comprehension declines dramatically.
More than half of patients that are enrolled in a Vision Therapy program with me have a vergence (which means eye coordination) problem.
The most common type of vergence problem is called convergence insufficiency. Convergence insufficiency can lead to reading difficulties including seeing double, getting fatigued quickly, feeling like your eyes are not working together, and headaches.
As a follow-up to my last blog post on normal vision development in young children, I’m going to share some strategies you can use at home with your baby to encourage proper vision development. Infants are not born with complete vision, good vision is developed through looking, touching, and exploring as your baby grows. This means that you, as the parent, can make a big impact on their vision development.
New parents should be aware of how their child’s vision develops over time, and what is normal. Infants and young children don’t typically outgrow vision problems, but I’ve seen firsthand that the sooner these problems are treated the better chance they have of being fully corrected. So as soon as you suspect a problem, schedule an eye exam.
Here is a statistic for you:
1 in 5 kids have a vision disorder
Many kids with vision problems just assume their poor vision is normal, because they’ve never experienced anything different. If these vision problems are not checked, they can cause serious long-term effects.