Hand eye coordination, or eye hand coordination, is the ability to use hands and eyes to perform everyday tasks simultaneously. It uses spatial-visual perception or what the eyes perceive to guide our hands to cause a movement. In most cases, people do not assume their hand eye coordination is a problem until they have difficulty with it. The most common cause is age.
Please keep reading to learn more about the working of hand eye coordination and ways to improve it.
How Does Hand Eye Coordination Work?
Hand eye coordination is the superfast communication between the eyes, brain, and body to perform a perceived task effectively and efficiently. Here are the steps to perform the task: for example, you are told to pick a pen from the table.
- The eyes scan all the items on the table to find the pen.
- Signals are sent to the brain, which processes what the eyes see and sends instructions to the body to pick up the pen.
- The hands follow the brain’s instructions and reach out to pick up the pen.
Eye-hand coordination requires our visual skills to be combined with our motor skills. This allows us to guide the hand based on the visual information we are receiving from our eyes. Most activities that we do in day-to-day life involve the use of hands and eyes simultaneously. Hence, it is important to develop and maintain this cognitive skill as early as possible.
For infants, hand eye coordination develops between 4 to 14 months of age, where they start to learn to grasp, throw, catch, kick and develop their fine motor skills. Eventually, these skills are used for handwriting, reading, sports, and other life skills like feeding themselves, tying shoelaces, and building towers with toys.
Development of Other Areas With Hand Eye Coordination
Eye-hand coordination involves the development of several other areas. Let’s go back to the example of picking up a pen from the table.
- The Vestibular System helps balance the head and eye movement to focus on the items placed on the table.
- Visual discrimination develops to allow the child to pay attention to detail and identify a pen from all the contents on the table.
- Gross Motor skills allow the child to use the large muscles of the arms and shoulders to reach for the pen on the table in controlled movements.
- Proprioception gives the child an awareness of how to move the body and the amount of force needed to grab and pick up the pen.
- Fine Motor skills are also developed as there is the use of small muscles of the wrist and fingers.
- Visual Tracking helps in scanning the contents placed on the table using visual input from the eyes.
This shows that hand eye coordination helps develop several other factors in early age development. It helps in mastering basic academic skills, learning, communication, and playing sports. Any signs of poor hand eye coordination skills need the attention of a pediatrician or a pediatric occupational therapist.
Importance of Eye-Hand Coordination
As seen above, the improvement of hand eye coordination helps develop several other skills. Hence, good eye-hand coordination can help in different areas of life like:
- Handwriting: Eyes are needed to form letters and make sure they stay on straight lines. This visual-motor integration is vital for handwriting.
- Reading: When young, a child is taught to read with a finger on the text. Visual tracking makes it possible to read.
- Sports: Hand eye coordination helps in throwing, catching, and hitting a ball and can later develop further to play a more complex sport.
- Life Skills: Tasks like stacking wooden blocks to make a tower, tying shoelaces, or harder tasks like frosting cakes also use eye-hand coordination.
Problems of Poor Hand Eye Coordination
Older age can cause eye-hand coordination problems where the accuracy and speed of performing a task decreases. As one gets older, their reaction time and dexterity impairs.
Researchers have found the relation between older age and decline of fine motor skills. A review of studies has shown age-related changes in biochemistry, function, and structure of the brain, which affect motor skills. This accounts for the decline of hand eye coordination in older adults.
In children, defects in eye-hand coordination can be noticed in a lack of handwriting and drawing skills. The child’s drawing may have poor orientation on the paper, and the child may have difficulties staying inside the lines while coloring.
The two main causes of poor hand eye coordination are:
Visual Impairment: Loss of vision or visual impairment can cause difficulties in performing tasks without specialized assistance. There may also be a reduction in the visual field where the eye cannot see as wide without turning the head or body. This changes how a child understands the world.
Hence, vision impairment can cause a decline in hand-eye coordination and limit cognitive, neurological, emotional, and physical development.
Movement Disorder: Characterised by impaired body movements due to several reasons. An example of a movement disorder is Ataxia, characterized by a lack of coordination of voluntary movements. Certain accidents or injuries can also cause movement restrictions. Reasons for movement disorders may be many, but it is one of the reasons for problems in hand eye coordination.
Developing Hand Eye Coordination
eye-hand coordination is developed since infancy. Infants are always eager to move their mouths, hands, and legs towards any person or object of their interest. They constantly practice skills to move objects towards themselves or to move towards the objects.
By the age of 6-months, infants can grab small objects without any hindrance and feed themselves. At this age, the infants tend to poke at objects with their index fingers and hold one object in their hand while looking for another object with their eyes.
After the age of six months, infants tend to reach and hold objects with one hand. They can also hold a cup by the handle with a careful manipulation of their hands. Dexterity improves at 8-months of age, where the infants start banging objects and can transfer objects from one hand to the other.
Milestone of hand eye coordination at different ages in young children:
From birth to 3-years:
- develop the vision to scan for objects and follow slow-moving objects with their eyes.
- Begin basic hand eye coordination skills with the development of fine motor skills like grabbing, throwing, reaching, dressing, feeding, etc.
- recognize concepts, places, and directions
Between 3 and 5 years:
- develop a preference of right or left-handedness
- gain the ability to climb, balance, run, jump, push and pull
- develop dexterity in hand, eye, and body coordination with eye teaming and depth perception
Between 5 to 7 years:
- improve fine motor skills like handwriting, handling tools with hands like scissors or a pencil,
- learn to focus on schoolwork with patience to spend hours on it for a day.
- Continue to develop skills of climbing, preference of using hands, running, jumping, etc.
Improve and Recover Hand Eye Coordination
As seen above, the importance of eye-hand coordination is immense to perform activities in daily life. There are several activities to gain and improve this important skill. Here are a few activities for the development of hand eye coordination.
Activities for Adults
Here are some activities adults can do to recover and improve their hand eye coordination which has depleted due to age.
This activity is low-impact and can help paint the fitness of a person and improve hand-eye coordination. It can also help improve balance and agility to perform other activities.
2. Tai Chi
A combination of meditative stretching and balance, Tai Chi helps in improving fitness and eye hand coordination.
3. Ball Games
Practicing ball games that involve catching and throwing can improve hand eye coordination. Juggling, basketball, and baseball can help in the improvement of the skill.
Activities for Children
Here are a few activities to improve your child’s hand eye coordination.
4. Suspended Ball Activities
Pop a ball into a net, the net packaging you get for vegetables or fruits. Tie this ball and net to the end of a rope. Hang the string from a hook or a horizontal pole to a length reaching the child’s chest.
The child can push and catch the ball or hit the ball with a bat. This activity allows the child to watch the ball carefully and catch it or hit it with a bat. A variety of bats can be used to increase the challenge for the child.
The size of the ball can also differ to increase the challenge. Older children can use smaller balls like a tennis ball.
5. Object Passing Games
This is a relay game played by children and adults alike. It is good for both indoors and outdoors.
Have the game participants stand in a line—place objects or a ball in their hands or a bucket in front of them. The person in the front has to pass the object/ball to the person in the back, either by passing it overhead, twisting their body while passing through hands, or passing from between the legs.
There may be a bucket at the end where they have to transfer all the objects/ball to and may also have the last person running to the front after placing the object/ball in the bucket at the back.
There are several ways to play this game. Encourage the usage of both hands while playing the game. This game works to improve bilaterally and hand eye coordination.
6. Threading and Lacing
Threading beads or a lacing card is a good activity for children to improve their fine motor skills. Using big chunky beads and thick thread can help the child maintain stability. A pipe or stick can also be used for extra stability. Lacing cards in different shapes is also a fun way to gain the skill.
7. Ball Games
There are a variety of balls games that can help improve hand eye coordination. Here are a few ball games that can make a good base for more complex games to be played later in age.
The children can sit with their legs apart and roll a ball between their legs from one to another. While doing so, they need to check that the ball doesn’t touch their body. This shows the child tracking eth ball with their eyes.
Passing the ball from one to the other or tossing the ball around is also a good game to improve hand eye coordination. The children could be standing in a line to a circle, and this game can be played with various modifications.
Toss and catch
Tossing the ball up in the air and catch the ball as it comes down. To make the game a bit more challenging, add a hoop or mark circle around the child to make the child throw the ball more linearly and control their movement.
8. Fitting Things Together
Some toys are designed to focus on the improvement of hand eye coordination. Jigsaw puzzles, building blocks, or stacking towers encourage playing and improve coordination. This is a good activity for infants, enabling them to learn that items can fit on top of each other.
This later develops into a desire of wanting to throw and catch things. This is one of the easier ways to develop eye-hand coordination by letting children play with their toys.
The Bottom Line
This is a brief on hand-eye hand coordination, on what it is, its importance, problems, and ways to develop it. The importance of eye-hand coordination is great to perform tasks to their greatest efficiency through the simultaneous use of hand movements and sight work.
Good hand eye coordination leads to a better life with proper motor control to play sports and perform daily tasks.
Any information found on the site does not constitute legal or medical advice. Should you face health issues, please visit your doctor to get yourself diagnosed. Icy Health offers expert opinions and advice for informational purposes only. This is not a substitute for professional medical advice.