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Crossroads Center – Saint Cloud, MN

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Under the Radar: Convergence Insufficiency

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Does your child struggle with school? It's important to be aware that the child may be one of many kids who have a particular condition that effects learning at school. It's known as Convergence Insufficiency (CI).

CI is a problem that negatively impacts one's capacity to see things at close distances. This means that a person with CI would struggle with reading, writing and working on things, even though it's a book or activity sitting right in front of them. A sufferer of CI has trouble, or is entirely unable to coordinate his or her eyes at close distances, and that really infringes on basic activities like reading or writing. And to prevent subsequent double vision, they try harder to make their eyes turn back in, or to use the correct medical term, converge. This added work can often cause a number of prohibitive side effects such as headaches from eye strain, blurry or double vision, sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, and reduced comprehension after brief periods of reading. Subsequent symptoms include challenges with doing computer work, desk work, playing on handheld video games or doing art work. At the severe end of the CI spectrum, the eyes can often turn outwards. This is known as strabismus.

You may have also noticed that your son or daughter frequently loses his/her place while reading, tends to shut one eye to better see, has a hard time remembering what was read, or reports that words appear to move or float. Also, some children experience problems with motion sickness. And if your child is sleepy or overworked, it's common for their symptoms to intensify.

CI is frequently diagnosed incorrectly as dyslexia, ADD or ADHD or even an anxiety disorder. This vision condition is often not detected during school eye screenings or basic eye exams using only an eye chart. Anyone can have 20/20 eyesight, but also have CI and therefore, have a tough time reading.

That said, the good news is that CI tends to respond positively to treatment, involving 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 persistent lack of testing for CI, lots of sufferers are not finding the help they need early in life. So if you've observed that your child shows signs of struggling with any of the symptoms mentioned above, speak to us to discuss having your child tested for CI.