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Struggling with Convergence Insufficiency

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When a child has a hard time at school, it isn't always a learning disability. You may be relieved to know that he or she could be suffering from a hidden but very real vision issue, which effects learning. It's known as Convergence Insufficiency (CI).

To explain, CI is a condition that negatively impacts a child's capability to see things at close distances. This means that a person with CI would have trouble reading, writing and working on things, even though it's something right in front of them. A person with CI struggles to, or is simply not able to coordinate their eyes at close range, which makes common tasks, like reading, extremely difficult. And to prevent subsequent double vision, people with CI strain more to make their eyes turn back in (converge). That might not sound all that bad, but that additional burden on the system can often cause a number of prohibitive symptoms like headaches from eye strain, blurred vision, double vision, tiredness and difficulty concentrating, and the inability to comprehend during brief reading periods. Further side effects include challenges with performing computer work, desk work, using digital readers or cell phones, or doing art work.

You may have also noticed that your son or daughter frequently loses the place in a book, squints or tends to shut one eye, has a hard time remembering what was read, or tells you that words on the page appear to move, jump, swim or float. Another issue that often comes up is motion sickness. It's not rare for these symptoms to worsen after an extended time spent reading or writing, and even more so if he or she is tired or anxious.

Unfortunately, CI is usually diagnosed incorrectly as learning or behavioral issues like ADD, ADHD, dyslexia or anxiety. Additionally, this problem is easily missed during school eye screenings or standard eye exams using only an eye chart. Your child may have 20/20 vision, while having CI, and not have the visual skills needed for reading.

That said, the good news is that CI often responds well to treatment. Treatments are usually comprised of vision therapy supervised by an eye care professional with practice at home, or the use of prism glasses, which can lessen some symptoms. The unfortunate news is that due to considerable lack of testing for it, a lot of sufferers aren't finding the treatment they require early in life. So if your child is struggling to read and concentrate, call us to discuss having that loved one tested for CI.