Convergence Insufficiency and Convergence Excess: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

eye teaming - convergence insufficiency - iStock-903483610

Convergence insufficiency and convergence excess are two relatively unknown conditions, despite how commonly they occur.  

According to the American Optometric Association, studies indicate that convergence insufficiency and convergence excess have a high rate of occurrence in the pediatric population:

Convergence Insufficiency  8.3%
Convergence Excess  7.1%

Combined, the two issues affect approximately 15% of the population, and their impact on a child’s ability to learn can be profound.

Convergence insufficiency

Convergence is critical for efficient functional vision

From infancy on, our brain and eyes learn and develop visual skills including convergence, the coordinated movement and focus of both of our eyes inward. Convergence is critical for our eyes to focus on close objects, like books, papers and computer screens.

If your eyes don’t converge efficiently, it can take a serious toll on your ability to concentrate on otherwise menial tasks.

What is convergence insufficiency?

Definition: Convergence insufficiency is a problem with ‘eye teaming.’ A person may be unable to converge their eyes or to sustain convergence. This can result in discomfort and even double vision when performing near-point tasks such as reading.  

What causes convergence insufficiency?

Convergence is a visual skill that is learned and developed. Some people develop the skill to a level that meets their needs, while others develop it to a lower level or not at all.

What are convergence insufficiency symptoms?

You may experience the following symptoms when doing any type of close work, including working on a computer and reading.  The more work you do and the more fatigued you are, the more pronounced the symptoms will become. Typical symptoms include:

  • Eye strain
  • Headaches
  • Double vision
  • Blurry vision
  • Loss of place when reading
  • Difficulty reading and concentrating
  • Avoidance of near work
  • Poor sports performance

Less common symptoms include:

  • Dizziness or motion sickness
  • General fatigue

The symptoms of convergence insufficiency can range from mildly annoying to so severe that you avoid nearpoint tasks.

Is there convergence insufficiency in adults?

Convergence insufficiency (CI) occurs in adults as well as children.  Because there are currently no epidemiological studies on CI in adults, we don’t have statistics on its rate of occurrence.  However, we do know it occurs and that it can be diagnosed and treated.

Is there a convergence eye test?

Convergence insufficiency is surprisingly easy to diagnose. However, not all eye care providers include the diagnostic tests in their examination.

If you suspect your symptoms could stem from convergence insufficiency, communicate them to your optometrist and inquire about whether they may be from CI.

If you don’t have an optometrist that you currently see or if you have symptoms but no diagnosis, you can schedule a functional vision exam by filling in the form below.

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