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By Sharon Summers, Ed.D.

Information on this page is not intended as medical advice. Concerns about your child's vision should be addressed directly with a qualified health care professional.

Some students who experience reading problems do not have a learning disability. Instead, the muscles in their eyes do not focus well when they are reading things up close. These students may have 20-20 vision but still complain about blurry eyesight and easily lose track of where they are on a page. This vision problem, called Convergence Insufficiency, occurs in less than 5% of all children.

Just like children diagnosed with dyslexia, a child with Convergence Insufficiency may be behind in their reading skills and reading comprehension. There is, however, significant differences in what causes the reading problems. Even though the end result of poor reading is the same for both groups, treatment to help the students is very different.

Difference between dsylexia and convergency insufficiency

A qualified developmental optometrist or an ophthalmologist (a medical doctor specializing in vision) is best suited to diagnose and treat Convergence Insufficiency. Oftentimes, vision therapy is prescribed to help train a person's eye muscle to better focus.

While no list of symptoms is complete or will be seen in all children, you can begin to tease apart the possible cause for poor reading achievement by considering the following.

  1. Pencil Push-ups
    According to the Mayo Clinic, pencil push-ups can be done at-home 15 minutes per day, at least five days per week. Holding a pencil arms length away from your face, focus on one of the printed letters on the side of the pencil. Keep your focus on that letter as you move the pencil closer to your face. Stop as soon as the letter becomes blurry.

  2. Computer Vision Therapy
    In-office vision therapy involves specially designed software, however, families can utilize some old-fashioned video games that encourage visual tracking. Mario Brothers games that require multilevel actions, such as jumping, climbing, and tracking left to right are good. So are driving games that involve going around a track, as well as Tetris and even Pac-Man.

Dr. Summers brings 30+ years of teaching (e.g. public school, Higher Education), leadership, and consulting to Hand In Hand. She is the recipient of the 2005 National Center for Leadership in Visual Impairment Fellowship. Dr. Summers specializes in conducting independent evaluations for students suspected of having a visual impairment, cortical visual impairments, and for developing visual fluency in students with multiple disabilities. Dr. Summers oversees Special Education consultations for Hand in Hand.

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March 30, 2020


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