Too often, kids are incorrectly diagnosed with all sorts of behavioral issues, when the issue actually is something else completely. It's important to be aware that the child might be suffering from a hard-to-detect vision problem that impacts learning, that eye doctors call Convergence Insufficiency (CI).
Here's the breakdown: CI is a near vision problem that gets in the way of your capacity to see things at close distances. This means, a person with CI would have trouble reading, writing and working on things, even if it's something sitting just in front of them. Someone with CI struggles to, or is simply not able to coordinate his/her eyes at close distances, and that greatly impacts on basic activities like reading or writing. To prevent double vision, CI sufferers try harder to make their eyes converge, or turn back in. This additional work often leads to a whole range of difficult side effects like headaches from eye strain, blurry or double vision, sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, and reduced comprehension even after relatively short periods of reading. Further side effects include difficulty working on a computer, desk work, playing on handheld video games or doing art work. In bad instances of CI, the eyes can often turn outwards. This is what we call strabismus.
Other things that may indicate CI include if your son or daughter often loses his or her place when reading, tends to shut one eye to better see, struggles when trying to repeat what they just read, or tells you that words they look at appear to move, jump, swim or float. Also, some children have problems with motion sickness. And if your child is sleepy or overworked, it's common for their symptoms to worsen.
CI is often diagnosed incorrectly as learning or behavioral issues like ADD, ADHD, dyslexia or anxiety. Additionally, this problem slips under the radar during school eye screenings or regular eye exams using only an eye chart. Your son or daughter might have 20/20 vision, but also have CI, and the resulting difficulties when it comes to basic skills like reading.
The good news is that CI typically responds well to proper treatment. Treatments are usually comprised of supervised vision therapy with practice sessions at home, or the use of devices known as prism glasses, which will reduce a number of symptoms. Sadly, most people aren't examined adequately, and as a result, aren't receiving the help they require early enough. So if you've seen that your child is having a tough time dealing with any of the symptoms mentioned above, speak to us and make a point to have your child screened for CI.