Saccades and fixations in children with delayed reading skills

Valldeflors Vinuela-Navarro, Jonathan T Erichsen, Cathy Williams, J Margaret Woodhouse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


PURPOSE: Previous studies have reported that eye movements differ between good/average and poor readers. However, these studies have been limited to investigating eye movements during reading related tasks, and thus, the differences found could arise from deficits in higher cognitive processes involved in reading rather than oculomotor performance. The purpose of the study is to determine the extent to which eye movements in children with delayed reading skills are different to those obtained from children with good/average reading skills in non-reading related tasks.

METHODS: After a screening optometric assessment, eye movement recordings were obtained from 120 children without delayed reading skills and 43 children with delayed reading skills (4 to 11 years) using a Tobii TX300 eye tracker. Cartoon characters were presented horizontally from -20° to +20° in steps of 5° to study saccades. An animated stimulus in the centre of the screen was presented for 8 seconds to study fixation stability. Saccadic main sequences, and the number and amplitude of the saccades during fixation were obtained for each participant. Children with delayed reading skills (n = 43) were unmasked after data collection was completed. Medians and quartiles were calculated for each eye movement parameter for children without (n = 120) and with (n = 43) delayed reading skills.

RESULTS: Independent t-tests with Bonferroni correction showed no significant differences in any of the saccadic main sequence parameters (Slope, Intercept, A, n and Q ratio) between children without and with delayed reading (p > 0.01). Similarly, no significant differences were found in the number of saccades and their amplitude during the fixation task between the two groups (p > 0.05). Further, none of the gross optometric parameters assessed (visual acuity, refractive error, ocular alignment, convergence, stereopsis and accommodation accuracy) were found to be associated with delayed reading skills (p > 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS: Eye movements in children with delayed reading skills are quantitatively similar to those found in children without delayed reading skills. These findings suggest that, in these children, delayed reading skills are not associated with eye movements and further question interventions targeted at improving eye movement control.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)531-541
Number of pages11
JournalOphthalmic and Physiological Optics
Issue number4
Early online date27 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jun 2017

Bibliographical note

Copyright: The authors


  • Accommodation, Ocular
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Depth Perception
  • Female
  • Fixation, Ocular
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Reading
  • Refractive Errors
  • Saccades
  • Vision, Binocular
  • Visual Acuity
  • Journal Article
  • Multicenter Study


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