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Learning Disability or Convergence Insufficiency?

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Does your child succeed in many sorts of activities, but struggle at school? It's important to be aware that the child might be one of many kids who have a hard-to-detect vision issue, which hinders learning. It's called Convergence Insufficiency (CI).

In short, CI is a condition that impacts one's ability to see, read, learn and work at close distances. A child with CI has a hard time, or is more or less unable to coordinate his or her eyes at close range, which impairs activities like reading. To prevent double vision, CI sufferers put in extra effort to make their eyes turn back in, or to use the correct medical term, converge. And this added work often leads to a whole range of difficult issues like headaches from eye strain, blurred vision, double vision, sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, and the inability to comprehend even during relatively brief reading periods. Further issues include challenges with working on a computer, desk work, playing on handheld video games or doing crafts.

You may have also noticed that your child frequently loses the place in a book, squints, rubs, closes or covers an eye, has a hard time remembering what was read, or tells you that words they look at appear to move, jump, swim or float. Another issue that often comes up is motion sickness.

Unfortunately, CI is usually diagnosed incorrectly as learning or behavioral issues like ADD, ADHD, dyslexia or anxiety. And furthermore, this eye problem is easily missed when a child gets a simple eye exam using only an eye chart. A child can have 20/20 vision, but still have CI and therefore, have a tough time reading.

Despite all this, the fact is that CI tends to respond well to professional treatment, which involves either supervised vision therapy in a clinical office with home reinforcement, or prismatic (prism) eyeglasses prescribed to decrease some of the symptoms. The bad news is that due to considerable lack of testing for it, a lot of people aren't able to access the help they require early in life. So if your child is struggling with any of the issues mentioned above, speak to your optometrist to discuss having your child tested for CI.