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"A Martian Ethologist observing humans using their visual systems would almost certainly include in their report back: 'they move these small globes around a lot and that's how they see'."

eye tracking ocular motor disorders

Example of poor eye movements and ocular motor deficits.  The colored lines indicate where the eyes (right and left represented with different colors) moved to, and the dots indicate where the eyes stopped moving while reading this passage.

The quote above is one of my favorite quotes about the way we see and how we operate.  It is taken from a book by John M. Findlay and Iain D. Gilchrist called Active Vision: The Psychology of Looking and Seeing. 

It reminds us what we often forget about our eyes.


That how well we compute information, learn, remember, and move around (navigate) is dependent on "these small globes we move around a lot".

If we cannot move the small globes around efficiently, then we will not process information as well.  So poor information processing can lead to poor learning and coordination problems. 

When you have an eye tracking problem, your eyes may dart around a page of text uncontrollably while reading.  Look at the following and think about how hard it might be to stay on task, and get through reading and school assignments if your eyes jumped around the page like that...



What are the signs and symptoms you might see with this Ocular Motor Disorder?








  • Head movement

  • Loses place in the text often

  • Needs finger to keep place in the text

  • Omits (skips) words frequently

  • Re-reads lines

  • Skips lines of text

  • Short attention span

  • Fails to recognize some words

  • Confuses similar words


  • Writes up or down hill

  • Repeats letters within words

  • Omits letters, numbers or phrases

  • Mis aligns digits in math

  • Fails to recognize same word when repeated in text

  • Mistakes when copying from the chalkboards/whiteboards

  • Writing is poorly spaced or crooked

  • Unable to stay on ruled lines


  • Fatigues easily

  • Avoids book work/desk work

  • Must feel things to understand (overly tactile)

  • Excessive head and body movement (appears hyperactive)

  • Poor ability to throw and catch

  • Anxiety when driving especially in cities

  • Clumsiness - bumps into objects

Source: OEPF

Eye Tracking Problems


There are several ways we diagnose this problem.  In our eye care facility in Bellingham, our Optometrist and staff will take a comprehensive history to understand some of the real life concerns you are having for yourself or child.  

Our eye doctor will then run specific tests to determine the range of motion, accuracy and stamina of the eye movements.  

In our office we will use standardized testing like the NSUCO or SCCO pursuit and saccadic eye movement grading scale as well as the DEM (Developmental Eye Movement Test) to understand how the eyes might move or scan in a scenario similar to reading text, but without added element of comprehending or sounding out words. 


This means that if you have trouble shifting the eyes accurately during these tests, you are likely to have difficulty reading and writing because they require these eye movements AND require you to think at the same time. 



Treating ocular motor dysfunction is done with optometric vision therapy.  We provide this service in our eye clinic in Bellingham and will generally see patients once per week for 55 minute sessions.  

As long as you've been treated completely, you should not have to go back to vision therapy over and over again after you finish the treatment.  Once the patient discovers the efficient way to use the eyes and finds that it's a lot easier than using the old inadequate way, he/she will most likely continue this pattern of movement throughout life.  

Read more stories of patients treated for eye movement problems here.

Schedule a full evaluation (eye exam + eye tracking testing) here.

Download any of our reports on vision therapy topics here.

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