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Learning Disability or Convergence Insufficiency?

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Many children are diagnosed with learning or behavioral disabilities when in fact, that isn't the problem at all. It's important to be aware that the child may have a hidden vision issue, which impacts learning at school. It's called Convergence Insufficiency (CI).

To explain, CI is a near vision problem that gets in the way of one's ability to see things at close distances. This means that a person with CI would have trouble reading, writing and working on things, even when it's something just in front of them. Someone with CI has a hard time, or is entirely unable to coordinate their eyes at close distances, which impairs activities like reading. In order to avoid double vision, they put in effort to make their eyes converge, or turn back in. And this added work can lead to a whole range of prohibitive symptoms like headaches from eye strain, blurred vision, double vision, tiredness and difficulty concentrating, and the inability to comprehend during short reading periods.

You may have also noticed that your child frequently loses his or her place while reading, squints or tends to shut one eye, struggles when trying to recall what they just read, or describes how the words seem to be moving. Another issue that often comes up is motion sickness. And if your son or daughter is sleepy or overworked, it's not uncommon for their symptoms to worsen.

CI is usually misdiagnosed as ADD or ADHD, dyslexia, or an anxiety disorder. This vision problem is often unable to be picked up when a child gets a simple eye exam using only an eye chart, or a basic eye exam at school. A child can have 20/20 eyesight, but still have CI and therefore, have a tough time reading.

That said, the good news is that CI can be expected to respond positively to treatment. Treatments generally involve vision therapy performed by an eye care professional with practice at home, or the use of prism glasses, which will reduce a number of symptoms. Sadly, most people aren't tested thoroughly enough, and as a result, aren't getting the attention they need early enough. So if your child is struggling to read and concentrate, see your eye doctor to discuss having your child tested for CI.

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