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Learning Disability or Convergence Insufficiency?

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Too often, we see really bright kids who adore camp and extracurricular activities, but just don't enjoy school. You may be relieved to know that he or she could be one of many kids who have a hidden but very real condition that effects learning at school, medically referred to as Convergence Insufficiency (CI).

In short, CI is a condition that affects your ability to see, read, learn and work at close distances. A person with CI struggles to, or is simply unable to coordinate their eyes at close distances, which makes necessary activities, like reading, very difficult. To prevent double vision, CI sufferers try harder to make their eyes turn back in, or to use the correct medical term, converge. That might not sound all that bad, but that additional work can often cause a whole range of difficult side effects including headaches from eye strain, blurry or double vision, sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, and the inability to comprehend even during relatively small periods of reading. Subsequent side effects include challenges with working on a computer, desk work, playing on handheld video games or doing art work. With the worst cases of CI, the eyes will turn outwards. This is what we call strabismus.

You may have also noticed that your son or daughter easily loses his/her place while reading, tends to shut one eye to better see, struggles when trying to recall what was just read, or tells you that words they look at appear to move, jump, swim or float. And if your child is sleepy or overworked, it's common for their symptoms to worsen.

CI is often diagnosed incorrectly as learning or behavioral issues like ADD, ADHD, dyslexia or anxiety. This problem is often not detected during school eye screenings or basic eye exams using only an eye chart. A child can have 20/20 vision, but suffer from CI, and lack the visual skills necessary for reading.

But there's good news too! It's been shown that CI tends to respond positively to proper 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. Unfortunately, most people aren't tested properly, and because of this, aren't getting the attention they need early enough. So if your child is having a hard time with any of the symptoms mentioned above, make an appointment with us to discuss having that loved one tested for CI.

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