Meredith talks on ABC radio about kids eye problems
To listen to the full broadcast of this interview, please click
What is Convergence Insufficiency?
Convergence insufficiency is a common childhood eye teaming problem, which can affect 2-3 children in every classroom. In convergence insufficiency, a person’s eyes have a tendency to aim further away, than where they are trying to see. Correct aim can only be achieved by exerting extra effort. The problem, says Meredith, is that even though it’s a common problem, it continues to be commonly overlooked.
Who does it affect?
Convergence insufficiency is common in childhood, but can persist into adulthood. On average, 2-3 children in every classroom suffer from the condition. Children with convergence insufficiency often suffer from difficulties maintaining attention (especially during close work), and as such the condition has similar signs to that of ADD/ADHD. In fact, more than 50% of the signs of inattention on the surveys for ADD/ADHD are also signs of convergence insufficiency. Because of this overlap in symptoms, Optometrists and researchers alike believe that there is the potential for mis-diagnosis. Studies show that children with ADD/ADHD are 3 times more likely to have convergence insufficiency.
How does it affect a person?
Convergence insufficiency makes it difficult for a person to perform close work for any period of time (eg reading & computer). Sufferers find it fatiguing and difficult to concentrate and maintain attention. They may experience pain such as headaches, eyestrain or sore eyes, as well as have difficulty keeping their place when reading. Sufferers may also avoid doing close work, instead saying “I’m just not a reader” and find school difficult. Convergence insufficiency has the potential to have lifelong effects if it goes untreated.
How is it diagnosed?
Sight checks may miss this hidden vision problem. This is because convergence insufficiency cannot be diagnosed by simply checking sight, eye health and the eye’s prescription. Instead it requires specific testing of a person’s eye alignment, eye teaming flexibility and stamina, focusing and eye movements. In most cases, this can be provided by an Optometrist who has an interest in this area of vision and learning.
How is it treated?
In the past, treatents for convergence insufficiency ranged from simple exercises called “pencil pushups”, computer programs, prism glasses, support glasses or vision therapy. Studies have now shown that the only effective form of treatment for convergence insufficiency is “office-based vision therapy”. This treatment requires individualised sessions in the clinic with a trained vision therapist or Optometrist. The exercises or activities are specifically programmed to provide effective relief of symptoms and improve the eye’s ability to coordinate together. Other treatments such as simple exercises and computer programs, when used in isolation have been shown to be a lot less effective.
For more information about convergence insufficiency, contact our team on 07 5520 5900, or visitwww.convergenceinsufficiency.org