Tracking is the ability to move our eyes from spot to spot while maintaining focus on the object we are looking at; it is an essential skill for reading and other everyday tasks. Eye movement problems are a fairly common eye problem in school children. There are two main types eye movement problems.  The first type is if the person is unable to follow a moving object smoothly (pursuits dysfunction) and the second type is if they are unable to accurately shift their eyes from one point to another (saccadic dysfunction). These Oculomotor Dysfunctions can affect almost every aspect of a person’s life.

In order to understand school work properly, as in reading or copying, the eyes must move smoothly and quickly from word to word. Only a slight error in tracking can cause confusion in reading if words are skipped or reread. If the child only reads 3 out of 4 words correctly, or even 9 out of 10 words correctly, then reading comprehension drops off quickly.

Vision and tracking skills are needed in sports for catching a ball. Eye tracking skills are essential in athletic performance. Eye-hand coordination depends first on good tracking skills. “Keep your eye on the ball.”

Most children have normal or nearly normal tracking skills early in life. This can deteriorate as the child grows older. Tracking problems occur when these muscles are not properly coordinated. It is more common now than ever before for children to have trouble with tracking skills. Once the eyes start making errors in tracking and focusing, the problem seems to worsen during the school year and may ease off (but not cure itself) during holidays and summer break.

Treatment is straightforward. The underlying cause is addressed with vision therapy and most patients can make rapid progress. Once diagnosed and treated, our patients experience improved handwriting abilities, reading with greater efficiency and ease, and the confidence of approaching those everyday challenges without the frustration of poor tracking skills.