When Your Child Hates Books: Common Eye Problems That Make It Difficult To Read

If getting your child to read is more of an ordeal than going to the dentist, you might be looking for some answers. While it is true that all children have different interests, its important to realize that your child's vision may be the reason why reading truly does not come naturally to them. Eyes are like complex machines. When the "calibration" is off, the function is affected, making all tasks, especially reading, much more difficult. In fact, experts believe that over 80% of kids who are diagnosed with learning disabilities may have undiagnosed vision trouble, which affects their performance with academics.

When might eyesight be affecting reading ability?

You will need to consider seeing an optometrist about glasses or vision therapy if you notice one or more of the following when you child tries to read:

  1. Rubbing the eyes after reading, especially if your child has only been trying for a few minutes. Generally, difficulty focusing leads to eye strain or irritation. Rubbing is a natural reaction in attempt to relieve the discomfort.
  2. Complaining of headaches. The muscles around the eyes have to work harder if your child has vision problems, which can lead to tension headaches, especially in the forehead or around the eye area. 
  3. Tracking words with a finger, especially if your child has had a few years of experience with books. Tracking can be an early reading tool, but older kids should not need to track because the eyes naturally follow and focus on lines when they are working right.
  4. Skipping lines or reading the same line over and over. 
  5. Moving the head instead of the eyes in order to follow a line. This means that eye movement is impaired, and could be the reason why the eye tries more quickly during a reading session. 

Shouldn't glasses do the trick?

Unfortunately, many parents assume that if a child has passed a basic vision test with the school or with the family eye doctor, that all is well. However, even though near or far-sightedness is a problem, there are other vision problems that affect learning. Kids can have trouble with:

  • focusing on a page when they have been looking at the board for a while. Usually, the eyes adapt to vision changes effortlessly. Some eyes, however, have slow reactions. Kids may struggle to move from a printed page on the desk to written words further away.
  • seeing double images. Wouldn't it be hard for you to read if you saw two pages in front of you, instead of one?
  • vision decline. That's right. Some kids will wake up in the morning with perfect eyesight, only to find that throughout the day, their ability to see decreases as their eye muscles get tired.

When a child struggles with these problems, reading is no longer fun, but becomes a chore that is sometimes painful. Instead of forcing the reading, it's better to make sure your child's eyes are healthy. Your vision specialist will perform a number of tests in order to ascertain the problem, and may prescribe a combination of glasses and vision therapy in order to make improvements.

What is vision therapy?

Basically, the idea behind vision therapy is that, like any other muscle in the body, muscles and nerves responses in the eye can be trained to perform better. Simple exercises will help to improve problems with slow focus. If there is one eye that is exceptionally weak, the strong eye may be patched in order to help the other one perform better. Some examples of exercises include:

  • following the point of a crayon or image slowly across different planes. 
  • training the eye to change points of focus subtly by moving fingers up and down.
  • moving an object forward and backward to train the eye to focus on things near and far away without a noticeable response time.  

You can click here to investigate more information on vision therapy.