Convergence insufficiency is a visual condition that can occur in both children and adults. Its symptoms can make it difficult to attend to tasks involving nearsighted vision. Regular eye examinations are not designed to detect the symptoms that accompany this disorder. Treatment options range from directed eye exercises to office-based vision therapy techniques.
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Convergence insufficiency is an eye disorder in which both eyes are unable to work together in activities that are close-up. Activities like reading, threading a needle or any task requiring a close-up view cause the eyes to drift outwards in order to better focus in. This is considered a binocular vision disorder or eye-teaming dysfunction. When the eyes do drift outwards, double-vision typically results. Symptoms of convergence insufficiency include headaches, squinting, problems with comprehension (when reading), blurred vision and problems concentrating. In some cases, other disorders may accompany this condition.
According to the National Eye Institute, up to 80 per cent of the people who experience convergence insufficiency are also affected by another condition called accommodative insufficiency. This condition involves problems with focusing on close-up objects. A person's eyes will compensate for this by increasing their ability to see, or their optical power, in order to maintain a clear focus. Individuals who suffer from both convergence and accommodative insufficiencies may experience more severe symptoms than someone who just has one or the other. The treatment options available are designed to treat one or both conditions.
Pencil push-ups are a visual exercise used to relieve the symptoms that accompany convergence insufficiency. Individuals are instructed to focus in on nearby objects for a repeated number of times. These exercises require little time to complete, and can be done at home, making them the least costly treatment option. This is the most common form of treatment prescribed; however this technique may be less effective at alleviating symptoms than other treatment options.
Prismatic eyeglasses are another form of treatment used to alleviate convergence insufficiency symptoms. These are prescription glasses which have prisms built-in to the lens. Prisms are designed to diffract light, so when a person looks through these lens, the image received is moved by the effects of the prism. An optometrist examination will measure how far apart a person can hold her eyes before double vision sets in. This measurement is the used to determine the angle in which the prism will best correct a person's vision.
Office-based vision therapy is cited as the most effective form of treatment for convergence insufficiency, according to the National Eye Institute. This form of treatment involves a thorough visual examination from which a planned program of procedures is developed. Therapy sessions are conducted by optometric vision care professionals. Some of the devices used in therapy include visual-motor sensory integration devices, computer software, optical filters and electronic targets with timing mechanisms. This treatment option is the most time intensive of the three and also the most costly.
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