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What is Convergence Insufficiency?

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Does your child excel in so many things, but struggle at school? You may be relieved to know that he or she may be one of many kids who have a hard-to-detect vision issue, which creates an obstacle in the way of learning. It's known as Convergence Insufficiency (CI).

Here's the breakdown: CI is a problem that affects a child's capacity to see, read, learn and work at close distances. A sufferer of CI has a hard time, or is more or less unable to coordinate his/her eyes at close distances, which impairs things like reading. And because they want to avoid double vision, schoolchildren try harder to make their eyes turn back in, or to use the correct medical term, converge. That might not sound all that bad, but that additional burden on the system can lead to a whole range of frustrating symptoms like eyestrain, headaches, blurry or double vision, fatigue and decreased concentration, and the inability to comprehend even during relatively small reading periods.

You might also notice that your son or daughter often loses the place in a book, squints or tends to shut one eye, struggles when trying to repeat what was just read, or reports that words seem to move around on the page. It is not uncommon for all these symptoms to get worse after a long time spent reading or writing, and even more so if he or she is tired or nervous.

CI is usually diagnosed incorrectly as ADD or ADHD, dyslexia, or an anxiety disorder. And furthermore, this eye problem is often unable to be detected when a child gets a simple eye exam using only an eye chart. Your son or daughter might have 20/20 vision, but also have CI and therefore, struggle with reading.

But there's good news too! It's been shown that CI often responds positively to treatment. These treatments are usually comprised of vision therapy performed by an eye care professional with reinforcing practice sessions at home, or the use of devices known as prism glasses, which can minimize some symptoms. Sadly, people aren't tested thoroughly enough, and as a result, aren't getting the help they require early enough. So if your child shows signs of having a hard time with anything mentioned above, see your optometrist to discuss having your child tested for CI.