Although 20/20 clarity is important, it's not enough. It is only one part of the larger picture that is vision.
The visual system is made up of the eyes and the brain, and it’s how these two parts work together that makes all the difference. When your eyes and brain don’t communicate with each other properly, this brings about poor reading comprehension, less ability to concentrate and attend.
A child cannot tell you that this is happening because they think that the way they are seeing, is normal, and that everyone sees that way.
Strong visual skills are essential for learning and performing well in school and in sports. These include:
- Fixation: The ability to fixate or hold your gaze on a target for an extended period.
- Pursuit: The ability to follow a moving target as you would follow a tennis ball.
- Saccade: The ability to rapidly shift focus between targets, such as moving from word to word while reading.
- Accommodation: The ability to shift focus between distant to near objects (and vice versa), such as looking at the board and then writing notes in your notebook.
- Binocularity: Using both eyes simultaneously.
If any of the above vision skills are not working well, your child may have difficulty paying attention, become fatigued, and may even exhibit behavioral problems. You may see your child rub their eyes while reading or use their finger to follow each word in a text. These are signs that there is an underlying visual problems. Your child may appear to be performing well below their potential, and their writing may be messy despite having good fine motor skills. If your child has been diagnosed with reduced visual skills, you can start to help them develop these skills at home? There are several activities that parents and caretakers can do during this time to help kids improve their vision.
If problems persist, then we advise that you come in for a full evaluation. We can then help your child develop these skills through vision therapy. Vision Therapy in our office is offered through in-office therapy and also through remote vision therapy with our therapsists.
At-Home Vision Exercises
Below are some ways you can help kids develop healthy vision from the comfort of their home.
Reading, Mazes, Puzzles and Writing — tracking
Visual tracking is made up of two skills: moving your eyes between targets (also called "saccades"), and following moving targets (called "pursuits"). We all make use of these basic skills every time we read, write, draw, drive, or do sports. Problems with tracking become more obvious when a child or adults frequently loses their place while reading, makes up words that are not there, or skims over words without processing them. Help your child develop theses skills by giving them puzzles, have them draws, and reads will improve their visual tracking. Reading to your child helps develops an interest for reading.
Alphabet Ball — fixation, binocularity, pursuits
With a permanent marker, draw letters, animals or colors on a ball or balloon. As you roll or toss the ball/balloon, ask your child to call out the last thing they noticed before catching it.
Near-Far Tasks — accommodation
In school, children must alternate between near and far objects, such as when looking at their notebook and then at the blackboard, and back again. Have your child sit at a table and draw the shapes you have sketched on a piece of paper and hung on a nearby wall. The motion of looking from a near point to far point will help improve accommodation (physical focusing) skills.
Pencil Movement — fixation
Ask your child to find a colored crayon they plan to use for drawing. Before they begin drawing, slowly move it in figure 8’s — horizontal, vertical, and circular motions in front of them — while having them follow it with their eyes. Doing this 5 minutes a day is an excellent way to improve fixation.
Our office is kid-friendly and we know to look for these types of problems, which are different that eye health problems and eyeglass issues.
We, at Family Eye Care in Old Bridge, NJ hope that you and your family are safe and healthy during this unusual COVID period.
We serve patients in Old Bridge, East Brunswick, South River, South Amboy, Aberdeen, Matawan, Marlboro, Manalapan, Monroe. and throughout New Jersey.