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What is Convergence Insufficiency?

Does your son or daughter have a hard time with school? You may be relieved to know that he or she might have a hidden vision issue, which impacts learning. It's known as Convergence Insufficiency (CI).

Here's the breakdown: CI is a near vision problem that gets in the way of a child's capacity to see things at close distances. This means, a person with CI would have trouble reading, writing and working on things, even when it's a book or activity just on the desk in front of them. A child with CI has a hard time, or is more or less unable to coordinate his/her eyes at close range, which makes everyday tasks, like reading, very hard. And to prevent subsequent double vision, schoolchildren strain more to make their eyes turn back in, or to use the correct medical term, converge. All this extra work can often cause a whole range of prohibitive side effects like eyestrain, headaches, blurred vision, double vision, fatigue and decreased concentration, and the inability to comprehend even during short periods of reading.

You might also notice that your child often loses his or her place while reading, squints or tends to shut one eye, struggles to remember what they just read, or tells you that words they look at appear to move or float. It is not uncommon for all these symptoms to be even harder to deal with as a result of illness, not enough rest, anxiety or too much time spent working.

CI is usually misdiagnosed as learning or behavioral issues like ADD, ADHD, dyslexia or anxiety. This eye problem slips under the radar during school eye screenings or regular eye exams using only an eye chart. Anyone can have 20/20 eyesight, but still have CI and therefore, have a hard time reading.

The good news is that CI tends to respond well to treatment, involving either supervised vision therapy in a clinical office with home reinforcement, or prismatic (prism) glasses prescribed to decrease some of the symptoms. Unfortunately, because of consistent lack of testing for it, a lot of people are not finding the help they need early in life. So if your child is having a hard time with any of the issues mentioned above, see your eye doctor and have your child screened for CI.