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Convergence Insufficiency: Not As Simple As It Seems

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Many children are diagnosed with learning or behavioral disabilities when actually, that isn't the issue at all. You may be relieved to know that he or she might have a hidden vision issue that impacts learning at school, that eye doctors call Convergence Insufficiency (CI).

In short, CI is a near vision issue that gets in the way of one's capacity to see, read, learn and work at close distances. A person with CI has trouble, or is simply unable to coordinate his or her eyes at close range, which makes basic tasks, like reading, very challenging. And to prevent subsequent double vision, CI sufferers exert extra effort to make their eyes turn back in (converge). All this extra effort can often cause a whole range of prohibitive symptoms including headaches from eye strain, blurry or double vision, fatigue and decreased concentration, and reduced comprehension after small periods of reading.

You may have also noticed that your son or daughter easily loses his or her place when reading, squints or tends to shut one eye, struggles to remember what they just read, or tells you that words they look at seem to be moving. And if your child is sleepy or overworked, it's common for their symptoms to be amplified.

CI is usually diagnosed incorrectly as learning or behavioral issues like ADD, ADHD, dyslexia or anxiety. And furthermore, this vision condition often goes undetected when a child gets a simple eye exam using only an eye chart. Anyone can have 20/20 vision, while having CI, and lack 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 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, with the considerable lack of testing for CI, lots of people aren't getting the help they need early in life. So if your child is battling with reading, writing and concentrating, call your eye doctor and be sure to have that loved one tested for CI.