Tag Archives: binocular weakness

An Eye Teaming Problem Could Be The Reason Your Child Struggles to Read

The Visual Learning Center offers 
developmental optometry & vision therapy
in Olney, Maryland,  convenient to Silver Spring.

Have you noticed that your child or a child you work with tries to avoid reading? Do they look away from the text often, rub their eyes repeatedly, or claim that they are tired every time they sit down to read?

This observed behavior could be caused by an eye teaming problem that might be interfering with their ability to learn and read effectively.

When a child is doing close work, such as writing, reading, or using a tablet, mobile device or computer, they must be able to keep both eyes turned in to point at the same position long enough to complete the task. This vision function–the ability to move, turn, and point the eyes together–is called eye teaming or binocular vision skills.

To learn more how vision can affect learning, download our free guide here and watch our pre-recorded webinar here.

Signs that your child may have an eye teaming problem include:

  • covering or closing one eye while reading
  • rubbing eyes excessively
  • complaining that words are blurry even with “20/20 eyesight”
  • having double vision
  • attempting to avoid reading or homework
  • declining performance over prolonged spans of close work
  • seeming to have a short attention span
  • tiring quickly while reading or doing close work
  • losing place while reading
  • frequent headaches

When a visual deficiency prevents both eyes from moving precisely in the same direction at the same time, reading can be challenging and the extra effort required to perform basic tasks can cause fatigue quickly.

Reading requires our eyes to aim in together at the same point on the page. Our vision is only clear, single and comfortable as long as both of our eyes are aiming at the same point.

Children with poor convergence or divergence skills have difficulty with eye teaming. Their eyes move somewhat independently of one another, which causes double or blurry vision, distorted depth perception, and sometimes dizziness.

They find it difficult to maintain the inward eye aim that required for reading. As their eyes get tired, they move inward or outward, pointing at different places on the page. Even a slight variation that isn’t noticeable when casually observing can cause a significant problem. The result is blurred vision that looks like double print.

vlc-eye-teaming

A typical eye exam by your family eye doctor or during a school vision screening does not test for eye teaming skills. If a child has an eye teaming disorder, he may be able to fixate on the vision chart in a typical eye exam and see it clearly long enough to see clearly for a moment. But maintaining proper eye turn for a sustained period of time can be a problem.

If you suspect that a child might have an eye teaming problem, it’s important that they undergo a comprehensive vision exam by a developmental optometrist who specializes in functional vision care and vision therapy. Studies have shown that as many as 78% of kids with reading and learning problems cannot track or team their eyes properly.

The good news is intensive vision therapy can improve binocular vision skills significantly and even eliminate eye teaming problems. See our vision therapy success stories.

For vision therapy in Olney or Silver Spring, Maryland contact Dr. Philip Nicholson’s Visual Learning Center today.

My child has “20/20” eyesight but still has trouble copying off the board at school. What could cause that?

You probably remember struggling from time to time to see the blackboard in school when you were a child. Maybe you sat in the back of the classroom, behind the tall kid, or someone with big hair sat in front of you. Perhaps you needed your first pair of glasses before you could easily make out the letters and numbers on the board without squinting.

If you remember those brief periods of frustration, you understand how some children with certain vision problems feel throughout the day while struggling to copy from the board, even with 20/20 eyesight.

Modern classrooms include whiteboards, ActivBoards, and Promethean Boards. Students spend a lot of time looking at boards, and then back at their desks, during a school day. If a child has a vision problem, it may be difficult for the child to copy off the board and follow the lesson.

A child may have “20/20” clear eyesight but may also lack the ability to refocus from near to far and from far to near. As the child looks down at his paper to read or write, he may see clearly. After he is looking at the board for some time, he can see clearly too. However, looking up and down, back and forth, from the board to the paper might be where the difficulty comes into play.

The focus mechanism in the child’s eyes might be weak, slowing down the adjustment period as he looks from one point of site to the other. In functional optometry, focusing is called “accommodation.” A full functional vision exam tests “accommodative facility,” which is the ability to sustain clear vision and to shift focus.

Weak accomodative facility (focusing) is not detected during most normal vision screenings.

Another vision problem that would make it difficult for your child to copy from the board at school is poor eye teaming. Eye teaming, known in functional optometry as “binocular vision skills,” refers to the ability for the two eyes to work together as a team. If both eyes are not moving at the same time in the same direction, a child will struggle to look up at the board, down at her paper, and back again without experiencing visual fatigue and tiring quickly.

Your child could also have poor eye movements, such as tracking and pursuits. Tracking eye movement skills help the child “locate” the words on the board and then locate the space on the paper where they are to place their print. A child with poor tracking skills loses her place often, and getting lost frequently is frustrating and tiring.

Poor teaming and tracking skills are not detected during most normal vision screenings.

If your child has been complaining that he is having trouble copying from the board, or your child’s teacher complains that he is not copying down the lessons or assignments as instructed, a vision problem could be to blame.

Even if a school vision screening or visit to your family vision care clinic indicated that your child has 20/20 eyesight, problems with focus, eye teaming, or eye tracking might be interfering with his or her ability to copy from the board and learn efficiently alongside his classmates.

Find an optometrist in your area who specializes in developmental or functional vision care. If you live near Olney or Silver Spring, Maryland, schedule an appointment with Dr. Nicholson’s Visual Learning Center for a full visual analysis.

The good news is intensive vision therapy can improve eye teaming, eye tracking, and focusing skills. Within the next few months, your child could experience significant improvement, and copying from the board can become easier.

girl reading

How will vision therapy help my child in reading?

 

Although it may not seem apparent at first, reading can be extremely difficult for a child with visual problems. When learning-related vision problems go undetected, a child might seem to be picking up on words and demonstrating comprehension initially, but overall performance and literacy will suffer.

Studies have revealed that the greater the amount of effort a child must put forth to read, the lower the child’s overall reading performance and comprehension will be. Reading requires prolonged fixation on reading materials, so the effort necessary to read is particularly challenging if the child has visual deficiencies, such as oculomotor and binocular weakness.

For a person to read, it is necessary for the two eyes to be properly aimed at text, so the eyes must turn inward. For some children, the eyes will naturally turn outward; and this deviation — even if slight and unnoticeable to parents or teachers — means that the child must use excess effort and energy to maintain fixation on the reading material.

If a child is unable to aim his or her eyes inwardly easily, he or she may not see every word in sequential order.  Instead, the child’s eyes may skip words or phrases, bounce around the text, and land at words sporadically.

A parent or teacher might notice that a student omits or adds words to make sense of a sentence, without actually seeing those words.

A child may be seeing double due to overlapping vision and experiencing headaches and eye fatigue as a result. But the child is often unable to express “seeing double” because he or she is unaware that the way they are seeing is not the correct way to see.

Vision therapy or vision training treats and quickly improves eye disorders by facilitating exercises and activities that strengthen existing weaknesses within the visual processing system.

Many children who participate in our vision therapy programs in Olney, Md. come to us having tested far below their current age levels in sensory skills, such as those related to oculomotor or binocular weakness.  Upon completing therapy, they retake the initial screening tests with impressive results.

Read some of our vision training success stories to learn more about how vision therapy can help your child in reading.  Contact us to learn more about how vision training can improve speed and accuracy of eye movements, visual concentration, letter reversals and other skills, making learning easier, faster, and more enjoyable.