Accommodative (Focusing) Disorders

Focusing muscles work one way to keep near targets clear and then work in a different way to keep distance targets clear. They allow us to see both clearly up close and in the distance, but not at the same time.

Focusing must remain on the page when appropriate, and also be at the chalkboard when that is appropriate.  If your child has to copy from the chalkboard, this requires not only very complex saccades, but also rapid saccades. Saccades are the eye movements that jump from one stationary object to another.

Poor focusing skills can create a great deal of difficulty in the classroom.  According to a recent scientific study, 75% of an elementary school child’s day is spent looking at something on the desk or looking back and forth from the desk to the chalkboard. This means that the common Snellen chart acuity testing ignores the way your child uses his or her eyes for the majority of the school day. Common signs of poor focusing include:

  • Head bobbing up and down when reading
  • Positions head very close to book or writing
  • Does not like to use computers
  • Very sensitive to bright light when reading
  • The print on the page or computer seems to “swim” or move
  • Headaches above the eyebrows during or after the school day
  • Blurred vision in the distance, especially at the end of a school day
  • Recurrent blurred vision when reading
  • Avoids reading small print, but likes larger font books
  • Grades and interest in reading declines in late second or in third grade
  • Poor attention span only when trying to work at the desk
  • Fidgets and is uncomfortable during desk work
  • Begins missing problems near the end of a test
  • Squints and rubs eyes frequently
  • Copies from the board or projectors in a very slow manner
  • Trouble distinguishing small words when reading


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