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Under the Radar: Convergence Insufficiency

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So often, we hear about smart kids who adore camp and extracurricular activities, but just don't enjoy school. It's important to be aware that the child might be suffering from a particular condition, which impacts learning. It's called Convergence Insufficiency (CI).

CI is a problem that interferes with one's ability to see, read, learn and work at close distances. A person with CI has a hard time, or is simply unable to coordinate his or her eyes at close range, which impairs activities like reading. And to prevent subsequent double vision, CI sufferers strain more to make their eyes converge, or turn back in. All this additional effort often leads to a number of difficult symptoms like headaches from eye strain, blurry or double vision, tiredness and decreased concentration, and the inability to comprehend even during relatively short reading periods. Further side effects include difficulty working on a computer, desk work, playing on handheld video games or doing art work.

You may have also noticed that your son or daughter frequently loses his or her place when reading, tends to shut one eye to better see, struggles to repeat what they just read, or tells you that words appear to move, jump, swim or float. Another issue that often comes up is motion sickness.

Unfortunately, CI is frequently misdiagnosed as dyslexia, ADD or ADHD or even an anxiety disorder. Additionally, this eye problem often goes undetected when a child gets a simple eye exam using only an eye chart, or a basic eye exam at school. Your child may 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 tends to respond well to proper treatment, which involves 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 consistent lack of testing for it, lots of people are not finding the help they require early in life. So if you've been told that your child is struggling with any of the issues mentioned above, make an appointment with us and make a point to get that loved one screened for CI.


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updated Feb. 16, 2023
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