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Binocular Vision: Is Your Child Having Trouble With Reading?

As humans, we greatly rely on our vision, so much so that it has been estimated that 80% of what is learned is through sight. But, if your vision is compromised, navigating day to day can become extremely difficult, especially for a child. We know vision is critical for a young developing mind, but there isn’t enough emphasis on ensuring not only can our children see clearly, but that they have healthy eyes too. This week’s blog post will highlight binocular vision issues and why it can make a difference in your child’s ability to learn how to read.


How a Regular Eye Exam Can Make a World Of Difference

Some of the most basic skills like reading can be negatively impacted if your child’s vision is not clear. Ensuring your child sees their family eye doctor on a regular basis can ensure that their vision is clear and problem free. Generally, many people think an eye exam simply entails an assessment of how far one is able to see clearly, which is called a visual acuity test. But, just because your child has 20/20 vision, doesn’t mean that there aren’t other issues present hindering their ability to see clearly.

If a child is unable to focus their eyes and use them together properly, things like reading can prove to be extremely difficult. Why? Because we have two eyes, images from both eyes are sent to the brain for interpretation. If the eyes are not working together properly, the message being sent to the brain can get jumbled. This is where a binocular vision assessment can identify such issues. Generally, binocular vision issues are classified into three groups:

  1. Accommodative insufficiency: the eyes are unable to focus properly at near distances which causes double vision.
  2. Convergence insufficiency: when looking at things close up, like reading, the eyes are unable to work together or have issues teaming up.
  3. Oculomotor dysfunction: not being able to read across a page due to the eyes’ inability to track or coordinate together.

For example, having double vision, or easily losing your place when reading could be a result of dysfunctional binocular vision. This could also impact your child’s ability to navigate his or her surroundings as poor binocular vision hinders the ability to judge depth.


The Proof is in the Pudding

Science Daily’s article, “Eye exams linked to kids’ reading levels” highlights a study which shows a link between poor binocular vision and reading:

“The study involved a retrospective review of 121 children between the ages of six and 14 who all had an Individual Education Plan specifically for reading. It found that more than three quarters of the students had good eyesight, but when they were tested for binocular vision, more than a third of the group scored below what was considered normal.”

The study shows some important data for parents. So what should parents be aware of? It’s important to understand that your child may not alert you that his or her vision is compromised in any way because they have been seeing this way their entire life. Parent’s can watch out for certain symptoms like tilting of the head, closing one eye to read, and or avoiding certain tasks. However, nothing can replace a visit to an optometrist, including a vision screening test usually done in schools.

If your optometrist finds binocular vision issues in your child, a case-specific treatment plan will be discussed with you. Generally, binocular vision issues are treated through vision therapy. Vision therapy sessions will help your child retrain the affected eye(s) through exercises which aim to help the eyes to work together properly, alleviating binocular vision issues.


Does your child need a comprehensive eye exam? Give us a call or book online with Dr. Sharma.

We would love to help you see your very best!