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What is Convergence Insufficiency?

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When your child has a hard time at school, it’s not always a learning disability. He or she could have a particular vision problem, which impacts learning. It’s known as Convergence Insufficiency (CI).

In short, CI is a near vision problem that negatively affects one’s ability to see things at close distances. This means that a person with CI would struggle with reading, writing and working on things, even when it’s a book or activity right on the desk in front of them. A person with CI struggles to, or is simply unable to coordinate his/her eyes at close range, which makes necessary activities, like reading, really hard. 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 additional work will often give way to a whole range of prohibitive symptoms like eyestrain, headaches, blurry or double vision, sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, and reduced comprehension even after small reading periods. At the severe end of the CI spectrum, the eyes tend to turn outwards. This is called strabismus.

You may have also noticed that your child often loses his/her place in a book, tends to shut one eye to better see, has a hard time remembering what was read, or reports that words on the page seem to move around on the page. Some children also get motion sickness.

Unfortunately, CI is usually diagnosed incorrectly as ADD or ADHD, dyslexia, or an anxiety disorder. This eye problem slips under the radar during school eye screenings or regular eye exams using only an eye chart. Your son or daughter might have 20/20 vision, yet still have CI, and not have the visual skills necessary for reading.

But there’s good news too! It’s been shown that CI can be expected to respond well to professional 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, people aren’t tested thoroughly enough, and as a result, aren’t getting the attention they require early enough. So if your child is struggling with reading, writing and concentrating, call us to discuss having that loved one tested for CI.