Visual Efficiency and Reading

iStock_000017284426_SmallVisual efficiency skills form the input channel for visual information as it travels to our brain to be processed and used for effective reading, writing and other academic tasks. Visual efficiency depends on the ability to comfortably sustain normal vision for long periods of time, especially at close distances where reading takes place. These skills allow us to see clearly, focus easily, use both eyes together, and track with our eyes.

We expect children to be able to read comfortably for extended periods of time, which increases as they get older. Even children in 1st grade are using their eyes at close distances in school for up to 4 hours a day.

Visual efficiency problems can interfere with higher level visual processing in the brain, as well as reduce reading speed, fluency and comprehension. The longer a child with visual efficiency problems reads, the harder it gets, often resulting in difficulty sustaining attention in the classroom and during homework.

 Signs of Visual Efficiency Problems

  • holds book or paper too close
  • frequent eye rubbing during reading or homework
  • loses place or rereads lines when reading, which often gets worse with time
  • omits or substitutes words
  • uses finger to read
  • homework is slow
  • reading comprehension decreases with time
  • avoids reading
  • slow reading speed
  • tilts or turns head
  • closes or covers one eye
  • squints or blinks during reading
  • red or watery eyes after reading
  • crossed or drifting eye
  • clumsy, poor depth perception

 Symptoms of Visual Efficiency Problems

  • headaches, worse later in the day
  • eyestrain, sore eyes
  • tired, burning or itchy eyes during reading
  • double vision
  • words move or run together when reading
  • blurry vision when reading or copying


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  • Michael Gallaway, O.D., FCOVD, FAAO | 825 Rt. 73 North, Suite A| Marlton, NJ 08053| 856-988-0080