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Struggling with Convergence Insufficiency

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Lots of children are diagnosed with learning or behavioral disabilities when in reality, that's not the issue at all. It's important to be aware that the child could have a hard-to-detect vision problem, which hinders learning at school, known as Convergence Insufficiency (CI).

To explain, CI is a near vision problem that gets in the way of one's capability to see, read, learn and work at close distances. A person with CI has a hard time, or is more or less unable to coordinate his or her eyes at close range, which makes necessary activities, like reading, extremely difficult. And to prevent subsequent double vision, CI sufferers try harder to make their eyes turn back in, or to use the correct medical term, converge. And this added effort can lead to a number of difficult symptoms such as headaches from eye strain, blurred vision, double vision, fatigue and decreased concentration, and reduced comprehension even after brief reading periods. Subsequent symptoms include challenges with working on a computer, desk work, using digital readers or cell phones, or doing art work. In severe instances of CI, the eyes can often turn outwards, which is known as strabismus.

You might also notice that your child easily loses his or her place when reading, squints, rubs, closes or covers an eye, struggles to repeat what was just read, or tells you that words appear to move or float.

CI is usually misdiagnosed as dyslexia, ADD or ADHD or even an anxiety disorder. Additionally, this eye problem is often unable to be detected when a child gets a simple eye exam using only an eye chart. A child can have 20/20 vision, yet still have CI, and not be able to develop the visual skills necessary for reading.

The good news is that CI typically responds positively to professional treatment. These treatments generally involve supervised vision therapy with practice at home, or the use of devices known as prism glasses, which will decrease a number of symptoms. Unfortunately, most people aren't tested properly, and as a result, aren't receiving the attention they require early enough. So if your child is battling to read and concentrate, see your optometrist and have that loved one examined for CI.

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