Lots of kids are diagnosed with learning or behavioral disabilities when in fact, that isn't the issue at all. It's important to be aware that the child might be one of many kids who have a hidden but very real vision problem that creates an obstacle in the way of learning at school, called Convergence Insufficiency (CI).
To explain, CI is a near vision problem that gets in the way of a child's ability to see, read, learn and work at close distances. A child with CI has trouble, or is entirely not able to coordinate his or her eyes at close distances, which makes everyday activities, like reading, very challenging. And to prevent subsequent double vision, CI sufferers try harder to make their eyes turn back in, or to use the correct medical term, converge. This extra work often leads to a whole range of uncomfortable symptoms such as headaches from eye strain, blurred vision, double vision, sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, and the inability to comprehend even during relatively brief reading periods. Subsequent side effects include challenges with working on a computer, desk work, playing on handheld video games or doing art work. In severe instances of CI, the eyes tend to turn outwards, which is known as strabismus.
You may have also noticed that your child easily loses his or her place while reading, tends to shut one eye to better see, has a hard time remembering what was read, or reports that words they look at appear to move, jump, swim or float. Additionally, some kids also have problems with motion sickness. And unfortunately, it's common for these symptoms to be even harder to deal with as a result of illness, not enough rest, anxiety or too much time spent working.
Unfortunately, CI is often diagnosed incorrectly as learning or behavioral issues like ADD, ADHD, dyslexia or anxiety. And furthermore, this vision condition is easily missed when a child gets a simple eye exam using only an eye chart, or a basic eye exam at school. A child can have 20/20 vision, but also have CI and therefore, struggle with reading.
The good news is that CI tends to respond well to treatment, involving either supervised vision therapy in a clinical office with home reinforcement, or prismatic (prism) glasses prescribed to decrease some of the symptoms. Unfortunately, most people aren't examined adequately, and as a result, aren't receiving the help they require early enough. So if your child is battling to read and concentrate, speak to us and be sure to have your child tested for CI.