The importance of play to vision development is often overlooked.
The earlier years of a human’s life involve progressive development for all senses, not just vision. Day-to-day activities and general interaction with the world around them sharpen these senses. However, vision development has posed the toughest challenge as many children are not progressing as required.
Studies have shown the idea of “play” and general activity in a child’s life is necessary for vision development.
Here is why.
Develop “Eye-Hand” Coordination Skills
Spatial awareness and perception are critical to one’s vision. A child begins to develop these skills at an early age.
The concept of “eye-hand” coordination comes down to motor-based perception. A child has to understand how their limbs move in sync with what their eyes are seeing. Let’s imagine a ball being rolled towards a toddler. They will learn to catch it with their hands instead of letting it get away.
Playing is essential for the child’s vision development because it immediately teaches them the importance of spatial awareness. It becomes ingrained at a young age and carries on for the rest of their lives.
Sharpen Eye Movement Patterns
The eye has to be trained to move in the most efficient manner. A baby is not able to do this as well, but over time through play, they can sharpen these eye movement patterns. Once again, the concept of playing catch with the child can be used.
The eyes begin to learn how to optimize movements to “catch” the ball. It teaches the eyes to focus on an object.
These are important skills required for appropriate and thorough vision development. If those eye movement patterns are not being sharpened, it leads to vision-based concerns down the road.
Develop a Connection Between Vision and Mind
All five senses come together to helpperceive the world around one’s body. However, it is the eyes which show everything unfolding in front of a human. Children have to build this connection between what is going on in front of them and how their mind perceives it.
Take a young baby for example. Playing “Peek-a-boo” may seem like just playing a game, but their vision-mind connection will develop.
Those connections do not happen randomly. Studies have shown how simple activities such as that can trigger development and empower a child’s eyes forever.
Ability to Comprehend Abstract Things
Abstract things are hard to comprehend for a child, but with practice and play, they are able to understand these items. A child has to be
challenged in order to understand these abstract visual patterns being presented to them on a regular basis.
Activities to Enhance Development
It is one thing to say play is important and another to implement it. Here are influential activities to consider and the age group they should be targeting.
1) Peek A Boo (0-6 Months)
2) Use of Rattles (0-6 Months)
3) Hide and Seek Using Toys Only (6-8 Months)
4) Stuffed Animals (6-8 Months)
5) Rolling a Ball (1 Year Old)
6) Catch (1-2 Years Old)
7) General Outdoor Play/Interaction (2 Year Old)
8) Climbing/Playground (3-6 Year Old)
9) Swimming (5-9 Year Old)
There are many other activities you can include on this list, but these are a good starting point and will work favorably.
The importance of play cannot be stressed enough for vision development.
Read how outside play can slow myopia progression – “Take it Outside,” by Dr. Rochelle Mozlin, on the COVD Mindsight Blog
Please note: In-office, Optometric Vision therapy, under the direction of a Behavioral Optometrist using prisms, filters and lenses, as used with our patients, is far more effective than home-based therapy.