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Under the Radar: Convergence Insufficiency

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So often, we see really bright kids who really enjoy camp and extracurricular activities, but just don't enjoy school. You may be relieved to know that he or she might be one of many kids who have a hidden condition, which effects learning at school, that eye doctors call Convergence Insufficiency (CI).

To explain, CI is a problem that gets in the way of one's capacity to see things at close distances. This means, a person with CI would have trouble reading, writing and working on things, even though it's a book or activity sitting just in front of them. Someone suffering from CI has trouble, or is simply unable to coordinate his/her eyes at close distances, which makes common tasks, like reading, really challenging. And because they want to avoid double vision, schoolchildren strain more to make their eyes turn back in (converge). This added strain often leads to a whole range of frustrating issues such as headaches from eye strain, blurred vision, double vision, tiredness and difficulty concentrating, and reduced comprehension even after brief reading periods. Additional symptoms include challenges with doing computer work, desk work, playing on handheld video games or doing art work. At the severe end of the CI spectrum, the eyes will turn outwards, which is known as strabismus.

You might also notice that your child frequently loses the place when reading, tends to shut one eye to better see, struggles when trying to repeat what was just read, or says that words seem to move around on the page.

CI is often diagnosed incorrectly as learning or behavioral issues like ADD, ADHD, dyslexia or anxiety. And furthermore, this condition slips under the radar when a child gets a simple eye exam using only an eye chart, or a basic eye exam at school. Your son or daughter might have 20/20 eyesight, but also have CI and therefore, have a difficult time reading.

The good news is that CI tends to respond well to treatment. Treatments generally involve supervised vision therapy with practice sessions at home, or the use of devices known as prism glasses, which will reduce some symptoms. Unfortunately, due to persistent lack of testing for it, lots of people aren't getting the help they require early in life. So if you've seen that your child is having a hard time with any of the issues mentioned above, make an appointment with us and have that loved one screened for CI.

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