Convergence Insufficiency (CI) is a common vision condition in which your eyes are unable to work together while looking at nearby objects. When we focus on objects up close, our eyes are forced to move inward, allowing our brain to create images. This is called “convergence.” When your eyes are unable to correctly align, the brain is unable to merge these photos. This results in what is called convergence insufficiency, which occurs when the nerves in your eye do not work properly, resulting in eye misalignment.
What is Eye Misalignment?
If you think about it, our eyes are independent. Each eye is used like a camera that collects visual images, and it is the brain’s job to manipulate those separate images to become one cohesive picture. This is a constant process between the brain and the eyes. Although some people can effortlessly merge both images, many others experience misalignment. When individuals have the inability to create an automatic visual, the brain is forced to adapt and create a preconceived picture. This process triggers the nerve in the brain that causes symptoms of convergence insufficiency like blurry vision, headaches, eye strain, and more.
What Causes CI?
Although individuals with CI experience misalignment, their eye muscles are still working properly. This means that convergence insufficiency stems from either the brain, or the nerves sending signals. Doctors still do not know what causes convergence insufficiency. However, the condition is associated with conditions that affect the brain, such as:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Neurodegenerative diseases
- Graves’ ophthalmopathy, an autoimmune disease
- Myasthenia gravis, or muscle weaknesses
Convergence insufficiency tends to run in families, so you or your children may have greater risk if other family members suffer from it.
Symptoms of CI
Symptoms are different for everyone. Some people do not experience any symptoms of CI whatsoever, which can make their diagnosis harder. Usually, however, symptoms occur when you are reading up close and they can increase over time. Some signs and symptoms of CI include, but are certainly not limited to:
- Blurry vision
- Double vision
- Eye strains
- Sore, tired eyes
- Difficulty reading/ concentrating
Diagnosis for CI
Unfortunately, convergence insufficiency is commonly undiagnosed due to inaccurate eye exams. Individuals can pass their normal eye chart exam, and still have CI. So, it is important to schedule a comprehensive eye exam with your eye doctor if you are experiencing any symptoms of CI.
Treatment for CI
Typically, individuals who do not experience any CI symptoms do not often need treatment. For those experiencing moderate to severe symptoms, however, doctors often prescribe their patients with different eye exercises to increase eye convergence. Some of these treatments include:
- Eye exercises like pencil pushups
- Computer vision therapy
These treatments can help to improve and elevate all symptoms of convergence insufficiency.