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Convergence Insufficiency: Not As Simple As It Seems

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Lots of children are diagnosed with learning or behavioral disabilities when in reality, that's not the issue at all. He or she may have a hidden but very real condition, which effects learning at school, known as Convergence Insufficiency (CI).

To explain, CI is a near vision issue that interferes with a child's capability to see things at close distances. This means, a person with CI would struggle with reading, writing and working on things, even though it's a book or activity sitting right in front of them. Someone suffering from CI has trouble, or is entirely unable to coordinate his or her eyes at close range, which makes basic tasks, like reading, really hard. And to prevent subsequent double vision, CI sufferers make an extra effort to make their eyes turn back in (converge). And this added effort can often cause a whole lot of prohibitive issues such as eyestrain, headaches, blurred vision, double vision, fatigue and decreased concentration, and reduced comprehension even after small reading periods.

You may have also noticed that your son or daughter often loses his or her place in a book, squints, rubs, closes or covers an eye, struggles when trying to repeat what they just read, or describes how the words on the page seem to be moving. Another issue that often comes up is motion sickness. And if your son or daughter is sleepy or overworked, it's common for their symptoms to intensify.

Unfortunately, CI is frequently misdiagnosed as ADD or ADHD, dyslexia, or an anxiety disorder. Additionally, this vision condition slips under the radar during school eye screenings or regular eye exams using only an eye chart. Anyone can have 20/20 eyesight, with CI, and lack the visual skills necessary for reading.

But there's good news too! It's been shown that CI often responds positively 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, due to considerable lack of testing for it, many people aren't finding the treatment they need early in life. So if your child shows signs of having a hard time with any of the issues mentioned above, see your eye doctor to discuss having your child tested for CI.