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Focusing on Convergence Insufficiency

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Does your child have a hard time with school? You may be relieved to know that he or she might have a particular vision issue that effects learning at school. It's called Convergence Insufficiency (CI).

CI is a problem that gets in the way of a child's capacity to see things at close distances. This means that a person with CI would have trouble reading, writing and working on things, even when it's something sitting just in front of them. A sufferer of CI has trouble, or is more or less unable to coordinate their eyes at close distances, which makes basic activities, like reading, extremely difficult. And to prevent subsequent double vision, they make an effort to make their eyes turn back in (converge). All this additional burden on the system can lead to a whole range of difficult symptoms like eyestrain, headaches, blurry or double vision, fatigue and decreased concentration, and reduced comprehension after relatively small reading periods. Subsequent side effects include challenges with doing computer work, desk work, using digital readers or cell phones, or doing art work. With the worst cases of CI, the eyes can often turn outwards. This is what optometrists call strabismus.

Other things that may point to CI include if your child easily loses his/her place while reading, squints or tends to shut one eye, has a hard time remembering what was read, or says that words on the page appear to move, jump, swim or float. Another issue that often comes up is motion sickness. It is not uncommon for these symptoms to escalate after a long amount of time spent reading or writing, especially if he or she is fatigued or nervous.

CI is frequently misdiagnosed as dyslexia, ADD or ADHD or even an anxiety disorder. This problem is easily missed when a child gets a simple eye exam using only an eye chart, or a basic eye exam at school. Anyone can have 20/20 eyesight, but also have CI and therefore, struggle with reading.

Despite all this, the fact is that CI usually responds well to proper treatment, which involves either supervised vision therapy in a clinical office with home reinforcement, or prismatic (prism) glasses prescribed to decrease some of the symptoms. Sadly, people aren't tested thoroughly enough, and because of this, aren't receiving the help they need early enough. So if your child shows signs of having a tough time dealing with any of the symptoms mentioned above, see your optometrist and be sure to have your child tested for CI.

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