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Struggling with Convergence Insufficiency

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Too often, kids are incorrectly diagnosed with all kinds of behavioral problems, when the problem is something else completely. You may be relieved to know that he or she may have a hidden condition, which hinders learning at school, called Convergence Insufficiency (CI).

CI is a near vision problem that impacts a child's ability to see, read, learn and work at close distances. A child with CI has a hard time, or is entirely not able to coordinate their eyes at close range, and that really infringes on basic activities like reading or writing. And because they want to avoid double vision, schoolchildren try harder to make their eyes turn back in, or to use the correct medical term, converge. All this additional strain can lead to a whole lot of prohibitive symptoms like headaches from eye strain, blurred vision, double vision, fatigue and decreased concentration, and the inability to comprehend during small periods of reading. Further symptoms include difficulty working on a computer, desk work, playing handheld video games or doing art work. At the extreme end of the CI spectrum, the eyes tend to turn outwards. This is known as strabismus.

Other symptoms that may point to CI include if your son or daughter frequently loses his/her place while reading, tends to shut one eye to better see, struggles to remember what was just read, or tells you that words on the page seem to move around on the page. And unfortunately, it's common for all these symptoms to be even harder to deal with after a long amount of time spent reading or writing, especially if he or she is tired or anxious.

Unfortunately, CI is frequently misdiagnosed as ADD or ADHD, dyslexia, or an anxiety disorder. And furthermore, this eye problem slips under the radar when a child gets a simple eye exam using only an eye chart. Your son or daughter might have 20/20 vision, while having CI, and not have the visual skills critical for reading.

Despite all this, the fact is that CI tends to respond positively to proper treatment. Treatments generally involve vision therapy performed by an eye care professional with reinforcing practice sessions at home, or the use of devices known as prism glasses, which can reduce a number of symptoms. Unfortunately, because of considerable lack of testing for CI, many people aren't able to access the help they need early in life. So if your child is battling to read and concentrate, see your optometrist to discuss having that loved one tested for CI.