What is Convergence Insufficiency?

Convergence insufficiency (CI) is one of the most common causes of ocular discomfort and is the most common cause of eye fatigue or “tired eyes”.

How does it occur?

CI is caused by a weakness in the convergence mechanism (the inward turning of the eyes needed to read). It mainly affects the patient’s reading ability and any sustained near work.

What are the symptoms that patients may experience?

The patient often experiences a large variety of symptoms. These include:

  • Headache around the eyes or brow
  • Blurred reading vision
  • Difficulty reading for long periods of time
  • Double vision
  • Losing one’s place when reading
  • Difficulty focusing from distance to near

Symptoms are aggravated by lack of sleep, sickness and anxiety.

Who typically suffers from Convergence Insufficiency?

CI seldom becomes a problem until a patient reaches school age. Increased school work and prolonged periods of reading may elicit the characteristic symptoms. The type of patient most often encountered is a beginning reader, a high school or college student who is especially prone to develop symptoms when special demands are made on the near vision complex during extended periods of studying. Although the symptoms of CI are well understood, the underlying cause of the convergence mechanism weakness is unknown at this time.

Is there anything that can be done to treat Convergence Insufficiency?

Therapy for CI consists of orthoptic exercises that build up convergence and if needed, prism glasses to help keep the patient more comfortable when reading at length. If done correctly and faithfully, orthoptic exercises, in most instances, provide long-lasting relief of symptoms.

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