These 3 Simple Eye Exercises
Can Help Your Child See Better
Vision is Learned and What
is Learned Can be Improved
Children develop their vision 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
1. Eye Focusing (Near & Far)
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 eye 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
For this procedure, you will need a pencil and a wall
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 classroom activities.
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 pencil.
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 distances.
2. Eye Tracking
For this procedure, you will need a rubber ball and
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
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
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 eye 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 eye 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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