Imagine you’re a child in a crowded classroom trying to read quietly, but the words on the page keep going double on you. You look around at your classmates and try to refocus, but can’t seem to get past the first paragraph without your eyes hurting or a headache forming. So you look out the window again. The teacher may think you have attention problems, but the real culprit might just be convergence insufficiency.
What is Convergence Insufficiency?
This is a common childhood eye-teaming problem that often lasts into adulthood if left untreated. If you have convergence insufficiency, the eyes struggle to team up and focus inward together so they can effectively process close-up objects such as the words on a page, tablet or computer screen. One of the eyes tends to start focusing out and away from the near object, causing blurred or double vision of the words or other near objects. The problem often goes undetected or misdiagnosed as an attention deficit disorder because people with convergence insufficiency can still pass a vision test with 20/20 vision.
Symptoms of Convergence Insufficiency
In addition to double vision affecting close objects or words on a page or a screen, children and adults with convergence insufficiency may also report the following problems:
- Eye strain
- Difficulty concentrating
- The need to squint or close one eye to see near objects clearly
- Blurry or double near vision
- Avoidance of work requiring good near vision
One or all of these symptoms may be present, and in children can present as a difficulty focusing or paying attention. It is important to bring these issues up with your eye doctor during an eye exam so that further investigation can get to the heart of the problem. There are successful methods of convergence insufficiency management that can reduce or even eliminate the symptoms for better reading, concentration and vision.
Convergence Inefficiency Management
Fortunately, this problem is gaining more awareness and our optometrists at Point of View Eyewear can effectively test for and treat it. If the patient tests positive, we have a convergence insufficiency treatment doctor who can provide in-office vision therapy and provide instructions for continuing therapy at home. Most children and adults who receive this combination of in-office and at-home vision therapy experience a marked improvement in their condition and can read without focusing and headache problems. In some cases, a patient may require special glasses to improve, however.
Vision Therapy for Convergence Insufficiency
The most successful convergence insufficiency treatment is a combination of in-office vision therapy combined with at home exercises provided by our eye doctor. In the office, we will help the patient with a series of vision exercises, some of which can be measured on a computer screen, as well as real near-vision exercises like “pencil pushups”.
Please understand, however, that vision therapy isn’t just a process of strengthening the eye muscles. Most people suffering convergence insufficiency already have strong eye muscles. The problem is that these muscles have learned incorrect teaming habits. So these vision therapy exercises are designed to retrain these muscles so the eyes can collaborate better at seeing and processing near objects like words on a page.
Your convergence insufficiency treatment doctor will also provide guidance on at-home therapy for you or your child to do for a few minutes every day to continue the work we do in the office. This consistency of both in-office and at-home treatment has proven to be the most successful way to remedy convergence insufficiency and works for about 75 percent of patients.
If the condition is especially severe or is slow to respond to professional vision therapy, our eye doctor can prescribe special eyeglasses that provide additional compensation for the eyes’ inability to team effectively.
If you suspect convergence insufficiency is a problem for your or your child, don’t wait to get help! Schedule an appointment with Point of View Eyewear in Falls Church at 703-237-6500 today.
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