Three Important Things To Know About Convergence Insufficiency

Do you find yourself squinting or covering one eye in order to focus the eyes while reading? If so, you may have an eye disorder called convergence insufficiency. Here are three important things you will want to know about this eye problem.

How Convergence Insufficiency Gets Diagnosed

When two eyes work together to see things at a near distance, it's called binocular function. If one eye turns outward while trying to focus on a near object, maintaining binocular function becomes impossible. When this type of eye misalignment occurs, it's called convergence insufficiency.

This disorder is diagnosed by an eye doctor. The alignment of the eyes is evaluated at near and far distances. In order to do this, an eye doctor starts off by having an object at a distance from the patient and then brings the object closer to see if the eyes converge properly.

Symptoms of Convergence Insufficiency

Besides finding yourself squinting while reading or covering one eye, other common symptoms of convergence insufficiency include the following:

  • Difficulty concentrating on "near" work such as reading or using the computer
  • Words begin to blur after prolonged periods of reading
  • Double vision
  • Getting headaches while reading

If any of these symptoms occur, it is best to see an optometrist or an ophthalmologist so that they can make a correct diagnosis and begin treatment. An orthoptist, an eye doctor who specializes in eye muscles, can also make the diagnosis and provide treatment.

Treatment Methods for Convergence Insufficiency

If you have been diagnosed with convergence insufficiency, there are treatment options available. The best treatment methods used often depends on the following three factors:

  • The age of the patient
  • How close the patient is to a vision therapist or orthoptist
  • The willingness of the patient to follow the prescribed treatment regimen

Prism lenses in eyeglasses are also sometimes used as a way to treat this condition. These specialized types of lenses help the eyes work together. However, for those who have lower vision in one eye, prism lenses might not be a viable option.

One type of treatment involves doing eye exercises by using a program on a home computer as a way to increase the eye's convergence ability. Another eye exercise, called pencil pushups, can also be effective. Patients simply focus on a small letter on the side of a pencil. They then bring the pencil closer to the bridge of their nose and stop when they begin to have double vision. This eye exercise can be beneficial if done for 15 minutes a day for at least five days a week.

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