Under the Radar: Convergence Insufficiency

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Lots of young children are diagnosed with learning or behavioral disabilities when in truth, that's not the issue at all. He or she may be one of many kids who have a hidden vision problem, which impacts learning at school, known as Convergence Insufficiency (CI).

In short, 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 when it's a book or activity sitting right in front of them. Someone with CI struggles to, or is entirely unable 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, or to use the correct medical term, converge. All this added strain can often cause an astounding amount of difficult side effects like headaches from eye strain, blurry or double vision, tiredness and difficulty concentrating, and the inability to comprehend during relatively brief periods of reading. Other symptoms include difficulty working on a computer, desk work, playing on handheld video games or doing crafts.

Other occurrences that may indicate CI include if your son or daughter often loses the place when reading, squints, rubs, closes or covers an eye, has trouble remembering what was read, or says that words on the page seem to be moving.

CI is often diagnosed incorrectly as dyslexia, ADD or ADHD or even an anxiety disorder. This condition 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 eyesight, but also have CI, and the subsequent challenges with things like reading.

But it's important to know that CI tends to respond well to proper treatment, involving either supervised vision therapy in a clinical office with home reinforcement, or prismatic (prism) glasses prescribed to decrease some of the symptoms. Unfortunately, people aren't examined properly, and because of this, aren't receiving the attention they require early enough. So if your child is struggling to read and concentrate, speak to your eye doctor to discuss having your child tested for CI.

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