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Under the Radar: Convergence Insufficiency

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Too often, kids are incorrectly diagnosed with all sorts of behavioral problems, when the problem is something else entirely. In truth, he or she might be suffering from a hidden but very real vision issue, which effects learning, called Convergence Insufficiency (CI).

Here's the breakdown: CI is a near vision issue that affects a child's capability to see, read, learn and work at close distances. Someone suffering from CI struggles to, or is entirely not able to coordinate his or her eyes at close distances, which makes common activities, like reading, really difficult. In order to avoid double vision, CI sufferers try harder 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 burden on the system often leads to a number of difficult symptoms such as headaches from eye strain, blurry or double vision, fatigue and decreased concentration, and the inability to comprehend even during relatively brief periods of reading. Other side effects include difficulty doing computer work, desk work, playing on handheld video games or doing art work. At the serious end of the CI spectrum, the eyes tend to turn outwards, which is known as strabismus.

You may have also noticed that your child frequently loses his/her place while reading, tends to shut one eye to better see, struggles when trying to remember what was just read, or says that words on the page appear to move or float. Also, some children get motion sickness.

CI is often misdiagnosed as dyslexia, ADD or ADHD or even an anxiety disorder. This vision problem is easily missed 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 the resulting troubles with things like reading.

The good news is that CI can be expected to respond positively to professional treatment. Treatments generally involve vision therapy supervised by an eye care professional with practice sessions at home, or the use of prism glasses, which can reduce a number of symptoms. Unfortunately, because of persistent lack of testing for it, many people aren't getting the treatment they require early in life. So if your child is struggling to read and concentrate, see us and be sure to get that loved one screened for CI.

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