Convergence refers to the natural ability of the eyes to focus and align while viewing objects up close. Children with convergence insufficiency have poor eye coordination that does not allow the eyes to work together, or “team,” especially when viewing small images (like reading material). Children or adults with convergence insufficiency tend to have blurred or double vision or headaches after reading and concentrating, making comprehension and attention poor, which ultimately impact learning. In fact, many children with convergence insufficiency are often misdiagnosed with a learning disability, dyslexia, or ADD/ADHD.

CI can only be diagnosed by an eye doctor trained to run specific tests. All optometrists learn about binocular problems and vision therapy in school, but most optometrists who provide vision therapy services receive post graduate education in the field. School screenings and screenings in a pediatrician’s office can’t check for convergence insufficiency, and it is often missed on a general eye exam by an optometrist or an ophthalmologist.

Mayo Clinic researchers, as part of a nine-site study, helped discover the best of three currently-used treatments for convergence insufficiency in children. The findings, published in the journal Archives of Ophthalmology, show children improve faster with structured vision therapy sessions in a doctor's office, with reinforcement eye exercises at home. The study from the National Eye Institute is called the CITT study.

"This is good news for children and parents experiencing this fairly common condition," says Brian Mohney, M.D., Mayo Clinic ophthalmologist and lead investigator for Mayo in the study. "Three different approaches were being used across the country and no one knew for certain which worked best. Now that's settled. And only 12 weeks of treatment were necessary to demonstrate improvement."

Amy Bearden OD is a pediatric optometrist currently obtaining post graduate certification for her fellowship in COVD. If you have concerns about your child’s ability to focus and sustain attention while performing near work, schedule an appointment with Dr. Amy to evaluate for this condition. Call us at 360-676-4030.

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