Eye movements in children: characteristics in typical and atypical development and assessment in practice

Valldeflors Vinuela-Navarro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An efficient and coordinated oculomotor control is vital in the classroom environment. It allows pupils to perform rapid, accurate saccades during reading, scanning a page and exploring a scene or the surrounding space. Further this control facilitates accurate smooth pursuits to follow the teacher’s movements through a variety of teaching routines, and playground activities such as children running or balls rolling. Hence, eye movement deficits or difficulties have the potential to impact children’s development and learning significantly. This review outlines the importance of appropriate eye movement control in children, and describes the typical characteristics of fixational, saccadic and smooth pursuit eye movements, and their development during childhood to achieve adult values. Following this, an introduction to the different eye movement characteristics found in children with learning difficulties is presented, in order to raise optometrists’ awareness of the increased risk of eye movement deficits in populations with atypical or different development. The article also describes and discusses the clinical techniques currently available to evaluate fixations, saccades and smooth pursuits in optometric practice, and provides some recommendations to support optometrists when assessing eye movements in children. Finally, the potential contribution of eye-tracking technologies for clinical practice is presented, and their technologies' limitations and current challenges are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
JournalOptometry in Practice
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 23 Oct 2018

Bibliographical note

Optometry in Practice (Online) ISSN 2517-5696 Volume 19 Issue 2. © 2018 The College of Optometrists. Permission from publisher to deposit in an institutional repository granted.


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