Uncoordinated and Unhappy

If your child has trouble playing certain sports, she might be due for a vision exam. Read on for the telltale signs of a vision problem on the field.

Q: My 8-year-old has a hard time hitting a softball, and it really upsets her. What can I do to help?

A: Consider taking your child in for a vision exam. "Even children who see clearly without glasses can appear inept at sports because of other vision deficiencies," says Richard S. Kavner, O.D., the author of Your Child's Vision.

For instance, there may be an undetected problem with your child's dynamic visual acuity (seeing clearly when in motion), peripheral vision (seeing out of the corners of the eyes), depth perception (judging the distance between oneself and a given object), visual tracking (following a moving object smoothly), or eye-hand-foot-body coordination.

Among the telltale signs of a vision problem on the playing field:

  • Inconsistent performance.
  • Skilled performance only in specific aspects of a game.
  • Inability to attend skillfully to more than one activity at a time.
  • Discomfort (during or after a game) that is unrelated to the muscles used.
  • Skilled performance only when the body is stationary or balanced.

    However, if a thorough eye exam doesn't indicate a vision problem, you may simply need to help your child find more occasions to practice the activity that she enjoys. Or, to give her more opportunities to experience success, help her find another sport that complements her natural abilities.

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