Children are required to have annual eye exams to not only evaluate children's visual acuity (clarity of vision) but also to have developmental eye movements assessed.
Developmental eye movements include saccades, tracking/pursuits, and convergence.
Saccadic eye movements are quick movements of the eyes between two points in various directions (left and right, diagonally, up and down). These movements should be a short, quick movement between the targets, and the child should be able to do it without moving his or her head. These eye movements are important for tasks such as spatial awareness and reading.
Pursuits, or tracking, are eye movements that follow a moving object in various directions. The children's eyes should be moving together, and they should not lose the target object. If the child's eyes are jumping, or they are required to move their head to track, the child may be experiencing a visual impairment.
Convergence is defined as the inward movement of both eyes. This means that the eyes are coming together to focus on a target object. A child's eyes should move inwards together, in a smooth movement. If one or both of the child's eyes are not converging or if the convergence is delayed, the child will have difficulty focusing on objects and will have more difficulty participating in activities.
If a child is experiencing visual issues, it can have a huge impact on their performance during daily activities.
Children with visual impairment often experience increased difficulty with academic activities - often struggling with handwriting, math, reading and attention. In addition to academic activities, children may also struggle with dressing tasks such as tying shoes and fastening buttons or zippers, which limits overall independence.
Vision also plays an important role in motor components of activities such as hand-eye coordination, balance and manipulating small pieces, which are all skills needed to engage in daily activities.
Having your children's eyes tested annually is the only way to monitor changes in their vision and developmental eye movements. It will give us the ability to diagnose and treat (or refer for treatment to a vision therapist).