These 3 Simple Eye Exercises
Can Help Your Child See Better
1. Eye Focusing (Near & Far)
Vision is Learned and What
is Learned Can be Improved
Children develop their visual skills as they grow.
But not every child will achieve the same level of
abilities in eye focusing, eye teaming and eye
tracking. However, practicing these skills can make
them more effective. And better vision skills can
mean Seeing Smarter and learning more.
The following three eye exercises are not meant to treat specific vision
problems. However, they can help develop and enhance specific vision skills.
Have your child practice each of these exercises at least 10 minutes a day,
three times a week. If after four weeks of practice, your child continues to
perform poorly on one or more of these eye exercises, arrange for an
evaluation by your family eye doctor.
For this procedure, you will need a pencil and a wall calendar.
This eye exercise can improve your child's ability to shift his/her eyes
quickly from the chalkboard to a worksheet on a desk, or from a textbook
to the teacher and back to the book. It also improves the speed of eye
focusing and the skill of seeing clearly at all distances involved in
Hang a calendar on the wall. With your child standing about 10 feet from the
wall and facing the calendar, have him/her hold a pencil erect about 10-12
inches in front of his/her nose.
Tell your child to look from the pencil to numbers on the calendar on the wall
as quickly as possible. Now look back at the pencil, then to numbers on the
calendar, repeating until he/has has made 10-15 "round trips".
The goal is to be able to change focus quickly and easily from the near
target to the far target and back without things going out of focus. Be sure
your child can see the pencil clearly before refocusing on the calendar;
and that the numbers on the calendar are clear before looking back to the
As this becomes easier, have your child move the pencil closer to his/her
nose and repeat. The distance between your child and the calendar should
also be increased and decreased so practice is gained for varying
2. Eye Tracking
For this procedure, you will need a rubber ball and a string.
Poor eye movements can translate into a child losing his/her place while
reading, skipping words, and reversal of letters. On the playground, your
child may have difficulty hitting or catching a ball.
Children should be able to follow a moving target smoothly and with
minimum effort. Jerky eye movements, overshooting or undershooting of
the target, or movement of the head rather than the eyes may indicate
the presence of an eye tracking problem.
This eye exercise can help a child develop more effective eye tracking
abilities. Start by attaching a string to a rubber ball (about three to four
inches in diameter) so it can be hung from a light fixture or doorway.
Small pictures, numbers, or letters on stickers can be placed or written on
the ball to provide a variety of targets for your child to look at.
Step 1: Hang the ball at about your child's nose level when
he/she stands facing it. Swing it gently to and from
your child and instruct him/her to watch it, as it
comes and goes.
Step 2: Swing the ball side to side and again instruct your
child to watch it without head movements, as it swings
back and forth.
Step 3: Hang the ball about three feet off the floor.
Have your child lie on his/her back directly
under it. Now swing it in a rather large circle
and instruct your child to watch it until it
comes almost to a stop.
The goal of this exercise is to be able to keep the eyes on the
moving target and follow it smoothly, while holding the head as
still as possible. Watch your child's eye and head movements
and encourage him/her to keep eyes fixed on the ball without
moving the head.
3. Eye Teaming (Near Point of Convergence)
For this procedure, you will need a pencil.
Convergence is the ability to move the eyes inward in order to
point them directly at a near object, like the words on a page.
Children who have difficulty converging their eyes may have
problems with reading. They will tend to tire after only short
periods of close work.
Using a pencil, hold it vertically about 16 inches from the child's
eyes with the eraser at the level of the bridge of the nose and
instruct your child to look directly at it.
Move the pencil slowly toward your child's nose until you see one
eye turn in or out. Estimate this distance. Then slowly move the
pencil away from your child and note the distance at which both
eyes again are looking directly at the pencil's eraser.
Repeat this process several times and note if the distances
change with each attempt.
A child with normal convergence, or eye turning ability, should
be able to keep both eyes fixed on the pencil until it comes
within 2 or 3 inches of the bridge of the nose, and as the pencil
moves away from the face, regain fixation using both eyes at
about 4 inches from the bridge of the nose.
If one eye moves in or out before the pencil reaches 4 inches
from the bridge of the nose or recovers beyond 6 inches, or if
performance worsens on repeated attempts, your child may
have a problem with eye teaming.
The goal of this exercise is to improve your child's ability to
converge his/her eyes more effectively on near objects.
Research has shown that practicing this simple eye exercise
can help improve eye teaming ability and reduce eye fatigue.
You can continue to have your child practice these three exercises as
long as you are seeing continuing improvement. If however,
performance fails to improve, arrange for a professional vision
examination for your child.
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