Convergence Insufficiency

Being a child who had troubles with reading while growing up, I had many diagnoses fly my way. I was diagnosed with Dyslexia to ADHD. Put into special programs at school to improve my learning ability. It was all quite frustrating to be frank. That was until I was diagnosed with my actual disorder: Convergence Insufficiency. I suspect most of you may not have any idea what this commonly misdiagnosed disorder is. It’s simply two large words to describe a simple and very common problem with children in these times.

Convergence Insufficiency is an eye disorder. A disorder where, when your eyes are supposed to converge to focus on something, they don’t, instead they disperse. Meaning that whenever you focus on a close object, like reading, you might have a bit of trouble. Instead of your eyes converging inward, they slightly drift outward. That slight movement can cause symptoms like: double vision, blurred vision, sore/uncomfortable eyes, headaches or sleepiness. Even difficultly reading, to the point that the words seem to drift around on the page, causing you to lose your place frequently and have a slower pace at reading.

The cause of this disorder isn’t known, but it involves the muscles that move the eye. This disorder can be threatening to a child’s learning capabilities. It’s commonly misdiagnosed as a learning disability because of the child’s reading troubles. It also cannot be detected in routine eye exams or school-based vision screenings.

Just because a child doesn’t need glasses, doesn’t mean he/she doesn’t have Convergence Insufficiency. You can have 20/20 vision and still have this disorder. If you or your child has troubles with reading or troubles with learning, testing might be a good idea. Testing is nothing to be afraid of; it’s simple, quick and painless. All you need to do is visit your Ophthalmologist or Optometrist.

During testing the doctor will go through your medical history. Such as further symptoms of the disorder: difficulty concentrating, headaches or tired eyes. Next he/she will measure the near point of convergence. During this phase the doctor will hold a small item like: a card, pen light or pencil in front of you and slowly move it closer to you. He/she will continue doing so until you experience double/blurred vision or until your examiner recognizes that your eyes can no longer focus together. When you’re almost finished with the exam the doctor will need to assess positive fusional vergence. During phase three the doctor will have you look at the same small object through prism lenses. This will continue until you have blurred/double vision. Then the last phase is something we’ve all gone through, just a simple, common eye exam.

Some treatments for Convergence Insufficiency can be mistaken for games. The main treatments are: pencil pushups, computer vision therapy and reading glasses with built in prisms. Therapy treatments can be done at home, but can sometimes take longer than three months to work. It really just depends on how far off your eyes are. Very rarely do patients need surgery. But, successful eye therapy can completely heal your Convergence Insufficiency.

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