Up to 15% of all children suffer with this eye condition. Convergence insufficiency is a highly treatable binocular vision condition that affects near vision and eye muscle coordination. Convergence of the eyes occurs when the two eyes need to focus on a close object, such as a book, computer, tablet, smart-phone, etc.
What is Convergence Insufficiency ?
Convergence insufficiency means the eyes struggle to focus easily for near tasks, affecting school work, attention and office performance in adults. A proper diagnosis of Convergence Insufficiency can prevent a child from being labeled as “lazy,” “spacey,” “clumsy”, “anxious,” and even misdiagnosed with ADHD, dyslexia, or mild autism.
How common is Convergence Insufficiency?
Convergence Insufficiency affects up to 1 in every 8 children, that is 13% of all school-aged students. It is therefore possible, that four children in every classroom may be struggling with this condition. Diagnosis and treatment of Convergence Insufficiency is essential for your child’s success in reading, learning, sports performance, and more.
What are the symptoms of Convergence Insufficiency?
There are many different symptoms that can develop as a result of Convergence Insufficiency— these are the most common:
- Headaches or muscle tension
- Blurred or double vision
- Difficulty reading and concentrating
- Uses finger or ruler when reading
- Avoidance of close work
- Poor hand-eye coordination
- Motion sickness/dizziness
If your child has Convergence Insufficiency, the following tasks may be challenging:
- Computer work
- Making crafts
Schedule an exam with an eye doctor who has experience diagnosing and treating Convergence Insufficiency with vision therapy, if you think that your child could be 1 of the 8 children affected by Convergence Insufficiency.
How is Convergence Insufficiency diagnosed?
A comprehensive eye exam including specific analysis of visual skills, binocular vision, convergence and focusing is required to enable identification of Convergence Insufficiency. A basic eye exam or screening with the 20/20 eye chart is not adequate for the detection of Convergence Insufficiency
Why is Convergence Insufficiency often undetected?
Convergence insufficiency frequently goes undetected in school age children because comprehensive testing for Convergence Insufficiency is not included in pediatrician or school vision screenings, and standard eye exams conducted by ophthalmologists. If an eye test does not include the specific tests mentioned above, this condition may remain undetected, affecting the child’s school and sports performances. While the good news is that Convergence Insufficiency responds well to proper treatment— unfortunately, since many children are not assessed for Convergence Insufficiency, they are not getting the help they need early in life, if ever at all. Children, teenagers and adults who remain un-diagnosed and untreated tend to avoid reading and close work as much as possible or use various strategies to combat symptoms, such as using a ruler or finger to keep one’s place while reading or taking frequent breaks.
Can Convergence Insufficiency cause visual suppression?
If untreated, Convergence Insufficiency can lead to more serious eye problems such as lazy eye (amblyopia) or even an eye turn (strabismus). If the convergence problems are left untreated, suppression can result. Suppression of vision in one eye occurs when the brain actively shuts off one eye, causing loss of binocular (two-eyed) vision and depth perception. In this case, some or all of the following symptoms may present:
- Trouble catching balls and other objects thrown through the air
- Avoidance of sports and games that require accurate depth perception
Frequent mishaps due to misjudgment of physical distances:
- Trips and stumbles on uneven surfaces, stairs, and curbs
- Frequent spilling or knocking over of objects
- Bumping into doors, furniture and other stationary objects
- Sports accidents
- Avoidance of eye contact
- Poor posture while doing activities requiring near vision
- Frequent head tilt
- Problems with motion sickness and/or vertigo
What is the best treatment for Convergence Insufficiency?
Vision therapy is the most effective treatment for Convergence Insufficiency. Our practice participates with RightEye Sensorimotor System™ which allows eye care professionals to quickly and objectively identify and address Binocular Vision Disorder in every patient and recommend computer assisted home therapy with a kit they provide.
Built on the FDA-cleared RightEye Vision System™ and backed by over 30 years of science, RightEye Sensorimotor is designed to improve patient care and treatments.
Treatments for Convergence Insufficiency can be categorized as active or passive:
Active treatment: A multi-site randomized clinical trial funded by the National Eye Institute called the Convergence Insufficiency Treatment Trial showed:
- The best treatment for Convergence Insufficiency is supervised vision therapy in a clinical office with home reinforcement (15 minutes of prescribed vision exercises done in the home five days per week).
- Children responded quickly to this treatment protocol
- 75% of all children achieved either full correction of their vision or saw marked improvements within 12 weeks.
- Passive treatment: Prismatic (prism) eyeglasses can be prescribed to decrease some of the symptoms.
- Although prism eyeglasses can relieve symptoms, they are not a “cure” and the patient typically remains dependent on the prism lenses.
- Adaptation problems can lead to the need for stronger prescriptions in the future.
- Scientific research, as well as optometric and ophthalmological clinical trials, agree that the primary treatment of Convergence Insufficiency should be vision therapy.
Vision therapy is highly recommended for treatment of Convergence Insufficiency Standard eyeglasses, contact lenses, medications, and surgery will not be effective in treating the condition. Vision therapy focuses on training the eyes to work together to improve 3-D vision, depth perception, and clear binocular vision.
Treatment exercises for Convergence Insufficiency may include:
- Eye tracking with pursuits and saccades
- Focusing for near and distance
- Depth perception practice
- Specialized equipment and tools such as prisms and lenses
- Training with computerized technology
- The goal of vision therapy is to stimulate the communication between the brain and eyes, to enable clear and comfortable vision at all times.