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Learning Disability or Convergence Insufficiency?

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Too often, kids are incorrectly diagnosed with all sorts of behavioral problems, when the real issue is something else entirely. You may be relieved to know that he or she may be one of many kids who have a hidden condition that impacts learning at school. It's called Convergence Insufficiency (CI).

In short, CI is a problem that negatively affects a child's ability to see, read, learn and work at close distances. Someone with CI struggles to, or is more or less not able to coordinate his or her eyes at close range, which impairs activities like reading. In order to avoid double vision, CI sufferers put in extra effort to make their eyes turn back in (converge). And this added effort will often give way to a whole range of frustrating issues including eyestrain, headaches, blurred vision, double vision, sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, and the inability to comprehend even during brief periods of reading. Other symptoms include difficulty working on a computer, desk work, using digital readers or cell phones, or doing crafts. With more severe instances of CI, the eyes can often turn outwards, which is known as strabismus.

You may have also noticed that your son or daughter frequently loses his or her place while reading, squints, rubs, closes or covers an eye, struggles to remember what they just read, or describes how the words on the page seem to move around on the page. Another issue that often comes up is motion sickness. It is not uncommon for these symptoms to get worse after a long period of time spent reading or writing, and even more so if he or she is tired or anxious.

CI is usually misdiagnosed as learning or behavioral issues like ADD, ADHD, dyslexia or anxiety. And furthermore, this vision problem often goes undetected during school eye screenings or basic eye exams using only an eye chart. Your child may have 20/20 vision, yet still have CI, and lack the visual skills critical for reading.

But it's important to know that CI typically responds positively to proper treatment, which involves either supervised vision therapy in a clinical office with home reinforcement, or prismatic (prism) glasses prescribed to decrease some of the symptoms. Sadly, people aren't examined adequately, and because of this, aren't getting the treatment they need early enough. So if your child is struggling with any of the issues mentioned above, speak to your eye doctor and be sure to get that loved one tested for CI.