Eye Coordination Difficulties

Eye coordination is the ability of both eyes to work together as a team. 

Last Updated: March 11, 2023

Video: What is poor eye coordination? | Dr. Brenda Horner

What is eye coordination?

Eye coordination is the ability of both eyes to work together as a team. Each of your eyes sees an ever so slightly different image and your brain, by a process called fusion, blends these two images into one three-dimensional picture. Good eye coordination keeps the eyes in proper alignment. A minor misalignment of your eyes can cause symptoms such as double vision, fatigue and headaches.

What causes eye coordination difficulties?

Eye coordination is a skill that must be developed during childhood. Poor eye coordination results from a lack of adequate visual development or improperly developed eye muscle control. Although rare, an injury, disease, tumor or other trauma can cause poor eye coordination.

How do eye coordination difficulties affect vision?

Since the images seen by each eye must be virtually the same to fuse them into a single picture by the brain, a person usually compensates for poor eye muscle control by subconsciously exerting extra effort on the muscles to maintain proper alignment of the eyes. In more severe cases, the muscles cannot adjust the eyes so that one image is seen and double vision occurs. The brain acts to alleviate the visual discomfort by suppressing, or blanking out, one of the images. In young children, if this suppression persists over a long time, it can lead to an impairment of the development of the visual system. The suppressed eye may get to the point that it is unable to see well, no matter how good the glasses or contact lens correction. Doctors call this condition amblyopia or lazy eye.

What are signs and symptoms of eye coordination difficulties?

Some signs and symptoms that may indicate poor eye coordination include double vision, headaches, eye and body fatigue, irritability, dizziness and difficulty in reading and concentrating. Children may display characteristics that may indicate poor eye coordination including covering one eye, head tilting, skipping lines or losing their place while reading, poor sports performance, avoiding tasks that require close work and tiring easily.

How are eye coordination difficulties diagnosed?

Since poor eye coordination can be difficult to detect, periodic eye examinations, beginning at six months of age, at three years, and then yearly after that, are recommended. A comprehensive examination by a Doctor of Optometry will determine the extent, if any, of poor eye coordination.

How are eye coordination difficulties treated?

Poor eye coordination is often successfully treated through vision therapy, glasses and/or other optical aids. If detected early enough, the success rate for achieving proper eye coordination is quite high. In some cases, eye coordination will improve when other vision conditions like nearsightedness or farsightedness are corrected. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to treat the poor eye coordination.