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Your Optometrists in the Santa Cruz area!

Home » What’s New » Learning Disability or Convergence Insufficiency?

Learning Disability or Convergence Insufficiency?

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When a child struggles at school, it's not always a learning disability. It's important to be aware that the child may be suffering from a hidden but very real condition, which hinders learning at school, known as Convergence Insufficiency (CI).

To explain, CI is a problem that gets in the way of one's capacity to see, read, learn and work at close distances. A child with CI struggles to, or is more or less not able to coordinate his/her eyes at close distances, which makes common activities, like reading, very difficult. To prevent double vision, schoolchildren try harder to make their eyes turn back in, or to use the correct medical term, converge. This added burden on the system can lead to a number of uncomfortable side effects such as eyestrain, headaches, blurry or double vision, sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, and reduced comprehension even after brief periods of reading. Other side effects include challenges with working on a computer, desk work, playing handheld video games or doing art work.

Other symptoms that may indicate CI are if your child often loses his/her place when reading, squints or tends to shut one eye, struggles when trying to recall what they just read, or reports that words seem to be moving. Another issue that often comes up is motion sickness. And if your child is sleepy or overworked, it's common for their symptoms to intensify.

CI is usually misdiagnosed as ADD or ADHD, dyslexia, or an anxiety disorder. Additionally, this vision problem slips under the radar when a child gets a simple eye exam using only an eye chart. Your child may have 20/20 eyesight, but suffer from CI, and not be able to develop the visual skills we all need for reading.

That said, the good news is that CI tends to respond well to proper treatment. Treatments are usually comprised of supervised vision therapy with practice sessions at home, or the use of devices known as prism glasses, which can minimize some symptoms. The bad news is that since there is consistent lack of testing for it, a lot of people are not getting the treatment they require early in life. So if you've seen that your child shows signs of having a tough time dealing with any of the issues mentioned above, see us to discuss having your child tested for CI.