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Convergence insufficiency

Convergence insufficiency occurs when your eyes don't work together while you're trying to focus on a nearby object. When you read or look at a close object, your eyes need to turn inward together (converge) to focus. This gives you binocular vision, enabling you to see a single image.

Convergence insufficiency can cause difficulty with reading. This may make parents or teachers suspect that a child has a learning disability, instead of an eye disorder.

Treatments for convergence insufficiency are usually effective.

Symptoms Causes Complications

Not everyone with convergence insufficiency experiences symptoms. Signs and symptoms occur while you're reading or doing other close work and may include:

  • Eyestrain
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty reading — words blur or seem to move on the page
  • Double vision
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Squinting or closing one eye

When to see a doctor

If you or your child experiences signs and symptoms of convergence insufficiency or has problems reading, consult an eye care professional, such as an ophthalmologist or an optometrist. A technician called an orthoptist may help with the evaluation and treatment.

Convergence insufficiency results from misalignment of the eyes when focusing on nearby objects. The exact cause isn't known, but the misalignment involves the muscles that move the eye. Typically, one eye drifts outward when you're focusing on a nearby word or object.

Difficulties with reading and concentrating can adversely affect a child's learning. Convergence insufficiency typically isn't detected in routine eye exams or school-based vision screenings. A child with the condition may be evaluated for learning disabilities because of his or her reading troubles.

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