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What is Convergence Insufficiency?

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Does your son or daughter do well in many kinds of activities, but struggle at school? You may be relieved to know that he or she might have a hidden but very real condition, which hinders learning, which eye doctors call Convergence Insufficiency (CI).

Here's the breakdown: CI is a near vision issue that affects your ability to see things at close distances. This means, a person with CI would have trouble reading, writing and working on things, even though it's something right on the desk in front of them. Someone with CI has trouble, or is entirely not able to coordinate his/her eyes at close distances, which makes common activities, like reading, really challenging. In order to avoid double vision, people with CI try harder to make their eyes turn back in, or to use the correct medical term, converge. And this extra burden on the system can often cause a whole range of uncomfortable issues including headaches from eye strain, blurry or double vision, sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, and reduced comprehension after relatively brief reading periods. Further issues include challenges with doing computer work, desk work, playing handheld video games or doing art work.

You may have also noticed that your son or daughter easily loses his/her place when reading, tends to shut one eye to better see, struggles to remember what was just read, or says that words on the page appear to move, jump, swim or float. Another issue that often comes up is motion sickness. And unfortunately, it's common for these symptoms to escalate after an extended amount of time spent reading or writing, and even more so if he or she is tired or tense.

CI is frequently diagnosed incorrectly as learning or behavioral issues like ADD, ADHD, dyslexia or anxiety. Additionally, this condition slips under the radar during school eye screenings or basic eye exams using only an eye chart. Your child may have 20/20 eyesight, with CI, and not be able to develop the visual skills necessary for reading.

Despite all this, the fact is that CI can be expected to respond positively 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 screened adequately, and as a result, aren't receiving the treatment they require early enough. So if your child is battling to read and concentrate, see us to discuss having your child tested for CI.