Eye Tracking Is The Key to Reading Success

So you’ve made the resolution to read more. Or perhaps that has come with your resolution to stay healthy, from reading the fine print on every label on every food product to poring over low-fat cookbooks.

But you hate reading. You know you should read more, but you really don’t care for it. But you don’t really know why.
That could be a sign of an eye tracking issue. “With eye tracking problems, I often find that people say they are uncomfortable reading or not wanting to read,” explains Vickie Bockenkamp of Power Tools for Learning in Alameda.

In adults, Bockenkamp often sees that they go to great lengths to avoid reading – even when a topic interests them, or they could advance their careers in the process. Children with such problems may avoid schoolwork, or give excuses as to why worksheets aren’t completed.

Bockenkamp, who helps children and adults with learning and information processing issues, says that often, a standard eye exam will miss eye tracking problems, which can cause such difficulty for the individual. “Often, when you go for an eye exam, they are looking at the health of the eye only. They may not be looking at how the eye moves.”

As part of her testing and evaluation of clients, Bockenkamp performs some basic tests to check the eye’s ability to track – to follow information on a printed page, for example. “I also look at how the eye moves, its flexibility and ability to focus. For example, does your vision adjust readily when you look up at the blackboard, and then look down again to write notes? Do your eyes adjust well when you look up at the television to see the scores, and then back down to the book you are reading?,” she notes.

In addition to the eyes’ ability to track, to remain flexible, and to focus, Bockenkamp says the eyes also need to be able to work together (called eye teaming)

For those whose eyes are not tracking or teaming correctly, the result is often an avoidance of reading. “Both kids and adults will lose their place a lot while reading,” she notes. “And often, adults will say, ‘I just don’t read.’ For some people, it is so uncomfortable they don’t want to read at all.”

With many eye tracking issues, Bockenkamp can help the client with exercises that help the eyes track properly. For more involved cases, she refers the client to one of a small handful of specialized eye clinics in the East Bay that work with these issues. Whether she refers her clients to a clinic or works with them herself, Bockenkamp is excited by the results, as people who once claimed they didn’t care for reading or schoolwork open an entirely new world for themselves.”The good news is that people don’t have to go through life saying they just don’t like to read when the real reason might be that their eyes aren’t working correctly,” Bockenkamp notes.

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