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Struggling with Convergence Insufficiency

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When your child has a hard time at school, it's not always a learning disability. It's important to be aware that the child may be one of many kids who have a hidden vision problem that hinders learning, which eye doctors call Convergence Insufficiency (CI).

To explain, CI is a problem that affects one's ability 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 just in front of them. A person with CI has a hard time, or is entirely not able to coordinate his or her eyes at close distances, which makes basic activities, like reading, extremely hard. In order to avoid double vision, people with CI exert effort to make their eyes turn back in, or to use the correct medical term, converge. All this added work can lead to a whole range of difficult symptoms including headaches from eye strain, blurry or double vision, fatigue and decreased concentration, and the inability to comprehend during short reading periods.

You may have also noticed that your son or daughter frequently loses his/her place in a book, squints, rubs, closes or covers an eye, struggles when trying to repeat what was just read, or describes how the words appear to move or float. Some sufferers also have problems with motion sickness. And unfortunately, it's common for these symptoms to worsen after a long time spent reading or writing, and even more so if he or she is tired or anxious.

Unfortunately, CI is often diagnosed incorrectly as dyslexia, ADD or ADHD or even an anxiety disorder. This eye problem is often unable to be detected during school eye screenings or standard eye exams using only an eye chart. Your son or daughter might have 20/20 vision, but also have CI, and the subsequent difficulties associated with reading.

That said, the good news is that CI can be expected to respond well to treatment. These treatments are usually comprised of vision therapy performed by an eye care professional with reinforcing practice sessions at home, or the use of devices known as prism glasses, which will decrease some symptoms. Unfortunately, people aren't examined thoroughly enough, and as a result, aren't receiving the help they need early enough. So if you've noticed that your child is struggling with any of the symptoms mentioned above, speak to your eye doctor to discuss having that loved one tested for CI.