Did you know that your eyes are always moving, even when you don’t see, feel, or notice the motion? These small movements allow us to maintain a steady focus on a line of text or moving object. Without accurate eye tracking: reading, writing, and other essential tasks can become difficult and uncomfortable. This is recognized as an eye tracking problem or oculomotor dysfunction.
Your eyes’ motions are controlled by your brain and nervous system, with both eyes ideally always moving as a team to maintain sharp binocular vision. These collaborative movements aren’t as smooth as they might seem, either to you or to an observer. That’s because the eyes move in tiny jumps called saccades. If these saccades don’t occur with perfect coordination and timing, the eyes can’t work together as they should to adjust for motion. This dysfunction is especially troublesome when reading or writing. Children with eye tracking problems tend to skip words in sentences or experience distracting eye strain. Children tend to compensate through exaggerating their head motions as they read but this is usually an unsuccessful effort. Academic struggles and learning disorders can sometimes be linked to these eye tracking problems. Below is what reading looks like for someone who experiences tracking problem:
In some cases, the culprit is a neurological issue such as a concussion or stroke. Diseases or disorders that interfere with normal eye muscle function can also interfere with tracking. This oculomotor dysfunction, also known as an eye tracking problem, occurs when there is a developmental delay or neurological event that interferes with the brain’s ability to effectively coordinate the eyes to fixate, follow, and move from spot to spot accurately and efficiently. Each eye has six extraocular muscles that work together in a sophisticated manner to accurately control eye movements. If these muscles don’t coordinate together then saccades, pursuits and tracking abilities will be reduced. These eye dysfunctions can affect every aspect of a person’s life.
The third eye focusing problem occurs when the focusing muscle over-contracts when looking at a near stimulus. This eye focusing problem is known as accommodative excess. The final type of eye focusing problem occurs when the individual has difficulty with both contraction and relaxation of the muscle. This is known as accommodative infacility.
Eye tracking problems can be indicative from the above-mentioned symptoms. This eye tracking problem can have a significant impact on a child’s learning and development capabilities. If you or your child exhibit any signs or symptoms that are associated with eye tracking problems, then please contact our office to book an appointment today with one of our optometrists.
Vision therapy is the treatment for those with eye tracking problems. It is a specialized or custom-tailored treatment program created by the optometrist to help train the eyes and the brain in working together. This therapy strengthens the neurological pathways between your eyes and your brain to help gain muscle strength and cognitive processing for successful visual tracking. Vision therapy is very similar to physical therapy. During each visit, the patient is given carefully selected and sequenced exercises along with homework exercises that will need to be done following their next appointment. The treatment is specifically designed to help the child reach efficient visual skills and eliminate visual complaints associated with eye tracking problems.