Delayed Readers And Vision: Understanding Eye Tracking Issues

Posted on: 25 April 2015


Delayed reading can be frustrating for a child and frightening for the parents. There can be many reasons for delayed reading, but one often overlooked cause is eye tracking issues. Children with tracking issues cannot focus their eyes properly on the words, which can make reading difficult or even impossible. Fortunately, the condition is usually repairable with vision therapy. The following signs are what you need to look for if you suspect a tracking problem in your child.

Physical Symptoms

You can watch for the following symptoms in your child. They will be most noticeable when the child is trying to read or focus on something. These symptoms include:

  • Covering one eye. This can be symptomatic of a focusing problem. Children with tracking issues may not be able to converge both eyes onto the print, so they cover one eye and focus with the other.

  • Rubbing eyes frequently. Blurry vision is a common complaint for those with tracking issues. Your child may rub their eyes often to try and clear their vision.

  • Headaches after short bursts of reading. This is also indicative of a focusing or convergence problem.

  • Excessive head movement. Print can seem to move across the page for someone with tracking problems, so they may move and bob their head constantly.

  • Trouble following the print. If tracking is a problem, your child may frequently lose their place, skip sentences, or use their finger to to track as they read.

If your child exhibits any of these symptoms, it's a good idea to meet with a vision therapist, like those at Absolute Vision Care, for a consultation. In some cases, these symptoms can indicate the need for glasses, while in other cases it may mean tracking therapy is required.

Therapy Basics

The type and duration of therapy your child needs will depend on the type and extent of their tracking issues. Tracking problems fall into one of three categories:

  1. Eye teaming. The eyes do not move and focus together, which can make print seem to move.

  2. Focusing. One or both eyes doesn't focus properly, or the eyes aren't focusing together.

  3. Field of vision. Some children have a narrow field of vision, which means they cannot see a whole sentence or group of words at once. This can make reading difficult.

Teaming and focusing issues are usually overcome through therapy, which trains the yes to work and focus together properly. Your child may also need glasses to help them focus better. A narrow field of vision isn't as easily overcome. Often, the vision therapist will have to work with your child to develop strategies for working around this short-coming. In this case, your child may work with a team consisting of a vision and occupational therapist until reading improves.