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Under the Radar: Convergence Insufficiency

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So many children are diagnosed with learning or behavioral disabilities when actually, that isn't the problem at all. You may be relieved to know that he or she might have a hard-to-detect condition that hinders learning. It's known as Convergence Insufficiency (CI).

To explain, CI is a near vision problem that interferes with your capability to see, read, learn and work at close distances. A sufferer of CI has trouble, or is entirely unable to coordinate his or her eyes at close distances, which impairs tasks like reading. And because they want to avoid double vision, people with CI exert extra effort to make their eyes turn back in, or to use the correct medical term, converge. That might not sound all that bad, but that additional strain can lead to a number of frustrating symptoms like eyestrain, headaches, blurred vision, double vision, fatigue and decreased concentration, and reduced comprehension even after relatively short reading periods. Other issues include challenges with doing computer work, desk work, using digital readers or cell phones, or doing art work.

You may have also noticed that your son or daughter frequently loses the place while reading, squints or tends to shut one eye, struggles when trying to remember what they just read, or says that words they look at appear to move or float. And if your son or daughter is tired or overworked, it's common for their symptoms to intensify.

CI is usually misdiagnosed as learning or behavioral issues like ADD, ADHD, dyslexia or anxiety. This eye problem is often not detected during school eye screenings or standard eye exams using only an eye chart. Anyone can have 20/20 vision, but suffer from CI, and not have the visual skills needed for reading.

Despite all this, the fact is that CI often responds positively 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. The unfortunate news is that because of consistent lack of testing for CI, lots of people aren't finding the treatment they require early in life. 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 and be sure to have your child tested for CI.