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Under the Radar: Convergence Insufficiency

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When your child struggles at school, it's not always a learning disability. It's important to be aware that the child could have a particular condition that effects learning at school. It's called Convergence Insufficiency (CI).

CI is a near vision problem that affects one's capacity to see, read, learn and work at close distances. A sufferer of CI has a hard time, or is more or less not able to coordinate his/her eyes at close range, and that greatly impacts on basic activities like reading or writing. To prevent double vision, they strain more to make their eyes turn back in (converge). That might not sound all that bad, but that additional effort can lead to a number of difficult symptoms including headaches from eye strain, blurred vision, double vision, tiredness and difficulty concentrating, and the inability to comprehend even during relatively short periods of reading. Subsequent issues include challenges with doing computer work, desk work, using digital readers or cell phones, or doing art work.

You may also notice that your child easily loses the place when reading, squints or tends to shut one eye, struggles when trying to repeat what was just read, or reports that words they look at seem to be moving. Also, some children get motion sickness.

Unfortunately, CI is frequently misdiagnosed as learning or behavioral issues like ADD, ADHD, dyslexia or anxiety. This condition is often unable to be detected when a child gets a simple eye exam using only an eye chart, or a basic eye exam at school. Your child may have 20/20 eyesight, but also have CI, and the resulting troubles when it comes to basic skills like reading.

That said, the good news is that CI tends to respond positively to treatment. These treatments generally involve supervised vision therapy with practice at home, or the use of prism glasses, which will minimize a number of symptoms. Unfortunately, because of persistent lack of testing for CI, a lot of people are not able to access the treatment they need early in life. So if your child is battling with reading, writing and concentrating, speak to us and make a point to have your child examined for CI.