Posted on May 21, 2017
By: Jeffrey Colburn, MD
In pediatric ophthalmology, we often have children referred to us for a vision evaluation when they are having learning or other reading issues. Most of the time these children have normal vision and a normal eye exam. But some of these children will have a real vision problem known as convergence insufficiency that is affecting their reading and near work.
When we talk about convergence in the context of eyes and vision, we are referring to the ability to bring both eyes in towards the nose in order to aim them both on a near target. This is important for near tasks such as reading. Difficulty bringing the eyes in together, known as convergence insufficiency, can lead to blurry vision, eye strain and sometimes even double vision. These symptoms can be a significant problem, particularly for early readers. On occasion sometimes a child may be mis-labeled as having attention deficit disorder because they are avoiding near work and appear to have poor attention. The good news is the convergence insufficiency is one eye problem that has been definitively shown in research to respond well to eye muscle exercises. There are several different ways to do the exercises including carefully directed home exercises, computer-based exercises, and more intensive in office exercise work.
Therefore, eye exams are a good idea for children with reading or learning difficulties. We can give reassurance that the eyes and vision are normal, address any need for glasses, or diagnosis and treat convergence insufficiency.