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Under the Radar: Convergence Insufficiency

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When your child has trouble at school, it's not always a learning disability. In truth, he or she could have a hidden but very real condition that impacts learning at school, that eye doctors call Convergence Insufficiency (CI).

CI is a problem that impacts one's ability to see things at close distances. This means, a person with CI would have trouble reading, writing and working on things, even if it's something just on the desk in front of them. A child with CI has a hard time, or is more or less unable to coordinate his or her eyes at close distances, which impairs things like reading. And to prevent subsequent double vision, CI sufferers strain more to make their eyes converge, or turn back in. That might not sound all that bad, but that additional effort can often cause a whole lot of prohibitive symptoms such as headaches from eye strain, blurry or double vision, fatigue and decreased concentration, and the inability to comprehend during small reading periods.

You might also notice that your son or daughter often loses the place in a book, squints or tends to shut one eye, struggles to remember what was just read, or tells you that words on the page appear to move or float.

Unfortunately, CI is frequently misdiagnosed as learning or behavioral issues like ADD, ADHD, dyslexia or anxiety. Additionally, this eye condition often goes undetected during school eye screenings or regular eye exams using only an eye chart. Anyone can have 20/20 eyesight, while having CI, and not have the visual skills needed for reading.

But it's important to know that CI can be expected to respond well to treatment. These treatments are usually comprised of vision therapy performed by an eye care professional with reinforcing practice sessions at home, or the use of prism glasses, which can lessen a number of symptoms. Unfortunately, people aren't examined properly, and as a result, aren't getting the help they need early enough. So if your child is struggling with reading, writing and concentrating, speak to your eye doctor to discuss having your child tested for CI.

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