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Focusing on Convergence Insufficiency

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Many young children are diagnosed with learning or behavioral disabilities when actually, that's not the problem at all. It's important to be aware that the child may be one of many kids who have a hidden condition, which effects learning at school. It's known as Convergence Insufficiency (CI).

To explain, CI is a near vision problem that gets in the way of one's capacity to see, read, learn and work at close distances. Someone with CI struggles to, or is more or less not able to coordinate his/her eyes at close range, which makes common activities, like reading, very challenging. And because they want to avoid double vision, schoolchildren try harder to make their eyes turn back in, or to use the correct medical term, converge. This extra work can often cause an astounding amount of uncomfortable issues like eyestrain, headaches, blurry or double vision, tiredness and difficulty concentrating, and reduced comprehension even after small reading periods. At the extreme end of the CI spectrum, the eyes may actually turn outwards, which is known as strabismus.

Other symptoms that may indicate CI include if your son or daughter easily loses his or her place while reading, squints or tends to shut one eye, has a hard time remembering what was read, or describes how the words they look at seem to be moving. And if your son or daughter is tired or overworked, it's common for their symptoms to worsen.

Unfortunately, CI is usually diagnosed incorrectly as ADD or ADHD, dyslexia, or an anxiety disorder. Additionally, this vision condition is easily missed when a child gets a simple eye exam using only an eye chart. A child can have 20/20 eyesight, but also have CI, and the resulting difficulties when it comes to basic skills like reading.

But it's important to know that CI often responds well to treatment. Treatments generally involve supervised vision therapy with reinforcing practice sessions at home, or the use of prism glasses, which will decrease some symptoms. Unfortunately, due to considerable lack of testing for CI, many people aren't able to access the treatment they need early in life. So if you've noticed that your child shows signs of having a tough time coping with any of the issues mentioned above, call your eye doctor and have that loved one tested for CI.

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