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Learning Disability or Convergence Insufficiency?

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Does your son or daughter have some trouble with school? In truth, he or she may be one of many kids who have a hidden but very real vision issue that hinders learning at school, called Convergence Insufficiency (CI).

CI is a near vision problem that impacts one's ability to see, read, learn and work at close distances. Someone with CI has a hard time, or is simply not able to coordinate their eyes at close range, which impairs activities like reading. To prevent double vision, people with CI try harder to make their eyes turn back in, or to use the correct medical term, converge. All this extra effort often leads to an astounding amount of prohibitive symptoms such as eyestrain, headaches, blurred vision, double vision, tiredness and difficulty concentrating, and the inability to comprehend during relatively short periods of reading. Additional issues include difficulty performing computer work, desk work, using digital readers or cell phones, or doing crafts. At the serious end of the CI spectrum, the eyes may actually turn outwards, which is known as strabismus.

You may also notice that your son or daughter often loses his/her place while reading, tends to shut one eye to better see, has a hard time remembering what was read, or reports that words seem to be moving. Another issue that often comes up is motion sickness.

CI is usually diagnosed incorrectly as dyslexia, ADD or ADHD or even an anxiety disorder. This condition is often not detected during school eye screenings or regular eye exams using only an eye chart. A child can have 20/20 vision, but also have CI and therefore, have a tough time reading.

But it's important to know that CI typically responds positively to proper treatment, involving either supervised vision therapy in a clinical office with home reinforcement, or prismatic (prism) eyeglasses prescribed to decrease some of the symptoms. Unfortunately, due to considerable lack of testing for it, lots of sufferers are not able to access the help they need early in life. So if your child is struggling to read and concentrate, call your optometrist to discuss having your child tested for CI.

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