When a child has trouble at school, it's not always a learning disability. You may be relieved to know that he or she could be suffering from a hidden condition, which impacts learning, that eye doctors call Convergence Insufficiency (CI).
Here's the breakdown: CI is a near vision issue that impacts 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 a book or activity sitting right on the desk in front of them. A child with CI has a hard time, or is entirely not able to coordinate their eyes at close range, which impairs activities like reading. And because they want to avoid double vision, CI sufferers exert effort to make their eyes turn back in (converge). That might not sound all that bad, but that added effort can lead to a number of frustrating symptoms including eyestrain, headaches, blurry or double vision, sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, and the inability to comprehend even during relatively short periods of reading. At the severe end of the CI spectrum, the eyes tend to turn outwards, which is known as strabismus.
You might also notice that your son or daughter frequently loses the place when reading, tends to shut one eye to better see, struggles to remember what they just read, or tells you that words on the page appear to move, jump, swim or float. Another issue that often comes up is motion sickness.
CI is frequently misdiagnosed as dyslexia, ADD or ADHD or even an anxiety disorder. Additionally, this vision condition is often not picked up when a child gets a simple eye exam using only an eye chart. Anyone can have 20/20 eyesight, but also have CI and therefore, struggle with reading.
That said, the good news is that CI typically responds well to professional treatment, involving either supervised vision therapy in a clinical office with home reinforcement, or prismatic (prism) glasses prescribed to decrease some of the symptoms. Unfortunately, due to persistent lack of testing for it, lots of sufferers are not finding the help they need early in life. So if you've observed that your child shows signs of struggling with any of the issues mentioned above, speak to us and be sure to get your child screened for CI.