OPHTHALMIC SURGEON
Specialist in Glaucoma, Cataract, Pediatrics

3 essential eye movements

Understanding your vision is the best way to take care of your eyes! COP9 introduces you to the 3 essential eye movements: ocular fixation, pursuit eye movements and finally saccades. These 3 essential eye movements provide the visual information necessary for the binocular field of vision, reacting to external stimuli. Discover these movements, which evolve with age.

Eye movements
Ocular fixation in 3 essential eye movements

Ocular fixation

On a daily basis, you will perform a series of fixations, like now, while reading this article! This is an essential eye movement, a momentary stop of your gaze on a point or an object in your environment. This visual perception is characterized by an alternation of fixations and rapid oscillation movements that allows you to correctly center the fixation point.

Each eye will perform this fixation, so that the image of the object of your attention is projected into the central region of the retina, the fovea. This internal area of the eyeball is composed of numerous receptors (cones, no rods) that provide the cortex with the most precise daytime vision.

As stated above, fixations are not achieved without their saccades.

Barely perceptible, these small eye movements correct the small natural visual deviations, and compensate for them. The stability of the retinal image is thus assured!

Very important in the visual function, fixation plays a key role in pursuit activities. In situations where you are stationary and following a moving object in your visual field (such as during a sports game watching the ball or a player), or whether you are mobile and following a stationary object with your gaze (such as being on the train and looking out the window at a tree), fixation is an active ocular process.

Ocular Pursuit

Ocular pursuit is one of the 3 essential eye movements. It allows you to follow the movement of a visual target. It is the ability of your eyes to look at the target without its image moving away from the fovea. The visual pursuit is carried out continuously, without saccades, all with fluidity and regularity. This slow and constant movement allows you to discover your environment. Linked to visual exploration, ocular pursuit is also used in reading in order to scan the line of sight.

This eye movement is not immediately acquired by infants. The ocular pursuit of newborns is not fully developed. Around the age of 4 months, the baby will have fluid ocular pursuit. Before that, eye saccades can be observed when following moving objects that are presented to them. Special attention should therefore be paid to your baby’s eyes, and you should not hesitate to consult an ophthalmologist if you notice any eye disorders.

Ocular pursuit disorders are observed in some children with the following pathologies: dyspraxia, attention disorders, ASD (Autistic Syndrome Disorders). Adults can also be concerned, as well as people with brain pathologies. We therefore invite you to make an appointment for an in-depth functional exploration in order to carry out screening during an orthoptic evaluation, and to meet with our ophthalmologist. We propose to our patients a personalized rehabilitation program in order to effectively manage their visual disorders.

The ocular saccade 

Rapid movement of the eye that allows the image of a moving object to be brought back to the retina. This is the third essential eye movement. You carry out thousands of saccades per day to read, observe an image or find an object in your visual field!

This saccadic micro-movement is carried out by both eyes, of the same amplitude and direction, can be vertical, lateral or oblique… in less than 60 milliseconds in adults. This visual function is the fastest of all our natural movements, without even realizing that we are doing it

Slower in children than in adults, this movement should be checked during an eye examination by an orthoptist. An excessive slowness can disrupt learning, whether it is academic, visual acuity or motor skills. For example, it can make reading difficult, affect vision, or have an impact on the development of exploration functions for children. If you have any doubts and notice any of these disorders, we invite you to consult an ophthalmologist.

The impairment of the ocular saccade may have a neurological cause. Only complementary examinations will be able to establish an effective evaluation of this ocular disorder. This movement is a reflex movement, so it is important to check its proper development in an ophthalmology clinic by means of an eye examination and an analysis of the visual and oculomotor capacities of children and adolescents.

For any rehabilitation of these three essential eye movements, COP9 and its team of orthoptists, ophthalmologists and psycho-motor therapists will welcome you and organize a coordinated care program to provide you with a personalized rehabilitation of your visual perception! 

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