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Home » What's New » What is Convergence Insufficiency?

What is Convergence Insufficiency?

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All too frequently, we hear about clever children who really enjoy camp and extracurricular activities, but just don't feel the same way about school. He or she could have a hard-to-detect condition that impacts learning at school. It's called Convergence Insufficiency (CI).

Here's the breakdown: CI is a problem that negatively impacts your capacity to see things at close distances. This means, a person with CI would have trouble reading, writing and working on things, even if it's something sitting right in front of them. A child with CI has a hard time, or is simply unable to coordinate their eyes at close range, and that greatly infringes on basic activities like reading or writing. And because they want to avoid double vision, people with CI try harder to make their eyes converge, or turn back in. That might not sound all that bad, but that extra effort can often cause an astounding amount of uncomfortable symptoms including headaches from eye strain, blurred vision, double vision, sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, and the inability to comprehend even during relatively brief reading periods. Further side effects include difficulty doing computer work, desk work, using digital readers or cell phones, or doing art work.

You may have also noticed that your son or daughter frequently loses his or her place while reading, squints or tends to shut one eye, struggles to remember what was just read, or tells you that words they look at seem to move around on the page. It is not uncommon for these symptoms to be even harder to deal with as a result of illness, lack of rest, anxiety or too much time spent working.

CI is frequently diagnosed incorrectly as dyslexia, ADD or ADHD or even an anxiety disorder. This eye condition is easily missed when a child gets a simple eye exam using only an eye chart, or a basic eye exam at school. Your son or daughter might have 20/20 eyesight, but also have CI, and the resulting troubles with things like reading.

But there's good news too! It's been shown that CI often responds well to proper 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, people aren't examined thoroughly enough, and as a result, aren't getting the help they need early enough. So if your child is struggling to read and concentrate, speak to your eye doctor to discuss having that loved one tested for CI.