Eye Tracking – What’s it all about?
One of the most common reasons that parents bring their children to us for a second opinion is that they have been told that their child has a problem with eye tracking. Many are understandably concerned that their child will not be able to learn unless this is rectified and some invest large sums of money in “treatments” that have no scientific basis and may have no more effect than being just a placebo. Unfortunately some children are also prescribed glasses that have little or no benefit to the eyes.
So what exactly is “tracking”?
Here is a brief explanation, which will help parents understand more:
The eyes are like two moving cameras that need to move accurately to allow a child to function properly. The system of movement is complex; each eye has six muscles, which are told by the brain to efficiently move the eyes in certain directions.
These muscles position and move the eyes in three main ways:
- Fixation: the eyes stare at an object in a certain direction without moving
- Saccades: these are quick movements of the eyes from fixating (staring or gazing) in one position to then fixate at an object in another position
- Pursuits: these are slower movement of the eyes to follow a moving object, such as a ball when playing sport or a target when playing a video game
Of these three types of positioning / repositioning of the eyes, only pursuits can accurately be called “tracking” type eye movements. However the eye movements that are most important to assist a child to learn, especially when reading or looking around a page of mathematics, are fixations and saccades, NOT pursuits.
That is, learning problems have nothing to do with eye tracking!
This doesn’t mean that vision is not important for learning. In fact it is estimated that 60-80% of learning is achieved through vision. However it is essential for the good of any child having problems with learning that optometrists only measure and ethically treat the aspects of vision that are needed to learn properly and to work with other practitioners if the issues with learning are outside of the optometrist’s domain.
What is different about the way Vision Excellence treat children?
We choose not to be called behavioural optometrists; nor are we associated with the practices of behavioural optometry.
We do not employ unregistered practitioners or vision therapists. Children who come to our practice seen by registered practitioners: optometrist and orthoptists, who practise only in a relevant and evidence-based manner.