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Struggling with Convergence Insufficiency

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When a child has trouble at school, it's not always a learning disability. You may be relieved to know that he or she may be suffering from a hard-to-detect vision issue that hinders learning. It's called Convergence Insufficiency (CI).

In short, CI is a condition that impacts a child's capability to see, read, learn and work at close distances. A sufferer of CI has a hard time, or is simply not able to coordinate his or her eyes at close range, and that really impacts on basic activities like reading or writing. In order to avoid double vision, they strain more to make their eyes turn back in (converge). And this added burden on the system often leads to a whole range of prohibitive side effects including eyestrain, headaches, blurred vision, double vision, fatigue and decreased concentration, and reduced comprehension after short reading periods. In bad instances of CI, the eyes can often turn outwards, which is known as strabismus.

You may have also noticed that your son or daughter easily loses his/her place in a book, 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. Some children also get motion sickness.

Unfortunately, CI is frequently misdiagnosed as dyslexia, ADD or ADHD or even an anxiety disorder. Additionally, this eye condition often goes undetected during school eye screenings or standard eye exams using only an eye chart. Your son or daughter might have 20/20 eyesight, but suffer from CI, and not have the visual skills needed for reading.

But there's good news too! It's been shown that CI often responds well to professional treatment, which involves either supervised vision therapy in a clinical office with home reinforcement, or prismatic (prism) eyeglasses prescribed to decrease some of the symptoms. Sadly, people aren't examined thoroughly enough, and because of this, aren't getting the treatment they require early enough. So if you've seen that your child shows signs of having a tough time dealing with anything mentioned above, speak to your eye doctor to discuss having your child tested for CI.