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Convergence Insufficiency

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Convergence Insufficiency

Convergence Insufficiency (CI) is a common binocular (two-eyed) vision disorder in which the eyes do not work at a close distance easily. This is one of those disorders where exercises can be used to correct squint eyes.  Now, Squint eye exercises work in only some squints.  Convergence insufficiency is one such type of squint.   Accommodative esotropia is another type of squint.

The normal working of the eyes when we do near work

Normally when we read a book or look at our phone both our eyes move inwards.  Basically towards the nose. The reason that happens is common sense right. The eyes are looking at something close up and the only way both the eyes will see that close-up an object is by moving toward the nose. This moving inward is called convergence.  This process of convergence is an active process.  This means that there is some expenditure of energy when somebody converges their eyes.

What happens in convergence Insufficiency ?

In this condition, the person is unable to move both his eyes inwards.  Because of this when people with this condition try and see things close by they find something abnormal with their vision.  Sometimes they see double and this causes a lot of eye strain. To prevent double vision, the individual exerts extra effort to make the eyes turn inward(converge). This extra effort can lead to a number of frustrating symptoms that interfere with the ability to read and work comfortably at near.

What are the sympotoms of Convergence Insufficiency ?

  1. Eyestrain (especially with or after reading)
  2. Headaches
  3. Blurred vision
  4. Double vision
  5. Inability to concentrate
  6. Short attention span
  7. Frequent loss of place
  8. Squinting, rubbing, closing, or covering an eye
  9. Sleepiness during the activity
  10. Trouble remembering what was read
  11. Words appear to move, jump, swim or float

Who gets Convergence Insufficiency ?

This condition is seen in children and sometimes adults too experience this condition.  Parents may come to us and complain of their children getting headaches. Another complaint could be that the child has lost interest in reading and hardly reads to stops reading a few minutes after they start.  Less commonly older individuals too experience this condition.

How do squint exercises help with this condition ?

Convergence insufficiency can often be treated by practicing convergence through exercises. These exercises are prescribed by an orthoptist (a medical technician who is specifically trained in ocular muscle function and binocular vision) or by an ophthalmologist. There are a few ways one can perform these exercises.  One of them is called a pencil push and another is called the cat card. These exercises are done at home and are relatively easy to do.  The way to do these to perform them as often as one can, maybe 4-5 times a day. 

Every time someone does these exercises there is a possibility of them getting a headache.  This is because these exercises are like weight lifting. But once these exercises are repeated frequently the headaches reduce and the patient feels better. Sometimes when the condition is very severe it may not be possible to do the exercises at home.  In that situation, we may have to call the patient to the hospital for 3-4 sittings. In these visits, we do exercises on an instrument called the synaptophore.  Once a few sittings on done on this piece of equipment the child would be able to then do the home exercises. Read more about squint eye exercises and convergence insufficiency.

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