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Focusing on Convergence Insufficiency

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Does your son or daughter show a real interest in so many activities, but have a tough time when it comes to school? You may be relieved to know that he or she may have a hidden condition that hinders learning at school, called Convergence Insufficiency (CI).

In short, CI is a near vision problem that affects your capability to see, read, learn and work at close distances. Someone suffering from CI has trouble, or is more or less not able to coordinate their eyes at close range, which makes basic tasks, like reading, extremely difficult. In order to avoid double vision, CI sufferers strain more to make their eyes turn back in (converge). That might not sound all that bad, but that added strain can lead to a number of frustrating symptoms such as eyestrain, headaches, blurry or double vision, fatigue and decreased concentration, and the inability to comprehend during brief reading periods. Other issues include difficulty working on a computer, desk work, playing on handheld video games or doing crafts. At the extreme end of the CI spectrum, the eyes will turn outwards, which is known as strabismus.

You may also notice that your child frequently loses the place in a book, squints or tends to shut one eye, struggles when trying to recall what they just read, or reports that words seem to move around on the page. It's not rare for these symptoms to worsen as a result of illness, lack of sleep, anxiety or too much time spent working.

CI is frequently misdiagnosed as dyslexia, ADD or ADHD or even an anxiety disorder. Additionally, this condition is easily missed when a child gets a simple eye exam using only an eye chart, or a basic eye exam at school. Anyone can have 20/20 eyesight, but also have CI and therefore, have a hard time reading.

But it's important to know that CI typically responds well to treatment, involving either supervised vision therapy in a clinical office with home reinforcement, or prismatic (prism) eyeglasses prescribed to decrease some of the symptoms. Unfortunately, most people aren't tested adequately, and because of this, aren't getting the attention they need early enough. So if your child is having a hard time with any of the issues mentioned above, call your optometrist to discuss having your child tested for CI.


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