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What is Convergence Insufficiency?

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Is your child intelligent when it comes to lots of things, but cannot cope well with school? He or she might have a particular condition, which creates an obstacle in the way of learning at school. It's called Convergence Insufficiency (CI).

To explain, CI is a condition that negatively affects your capability to see things at close distances. This means that a person with CI would have trouble reading, writing and working on things, even if it's a book or activity sitting right in front of them. Someone with CI has trouble, or is entirely unable to coordinate their eyes at close range, and that greatly infringes on basic activities like reading or writing. In order to avoid double vision, they make an effort to make their eyes converge, or turn back in. And this extra effort will often give way to an astounding amount of difficult issues such as headaches from eye strain, blurred vision, double vision, tiredness and decreased concentration, and reduced comprehension after relatively short periods of reading. Further symptoms include difficulty performing computer work, desk work, playing on handheld video games or doing art work. In more severe instances of CI, the eyes can often turn outwards. This is known as strabismus.

Other symptoms that may point to CI are if your child easily loses his/her place when reading, squints, rubs, closes or covers an eye, struggles when trying to recall what they just read, or tells you that words they look at appear to move, jump, swim or float. Additionally, some kids also experience problems with motion sickness. And unfortunately, it's common for these symptoms to get worse after a long period of time spent reading or writing, especially if he or she is fatigued or anxious.

Unfortunately, CI is usually diagnosed incorrectly as ADD or ADHD, dyslexia, or an anxiety disorder. This vision condition often goes undetected during school eye screenings or standard eye exams using only an eye chart. Your child may have 20/20 eyesight, but also have CI and therefore, struggle with reading.

But there's good news too! It's been shown that CI typically responds positively to professional treatment. Treatments are usually comprised of vision therapy performed by an eye care professional with reinforcing practice sessions at home, or the use of prism glasses, which can decrease a number of symptoms. Unfortunately, most people aren't tested thoroughly enough, and as a result, aren't getting the help they require early enough. So if your child is struggling with reading, writing and concentrating, call us and make a point to have your child screened for CI.