Convergence Insufficiency

What is Convergence Insufficiency?

Individuals who have convergence insufficiency have difficulties with their vision when they are reading or focusing on something close. As a person who has convergence insufficiency looks at a near object, their eyes drift off to each side instead of focusing together on the object in front of them.

Individuals who have this disorder often have perfect vision, so it can be difficult to diagnose. The cause of convergence insufficiency is not known, but some studies suggest that it might have a connection to deficiencies in the area of the brain that controls the simultaneous motion of the eyes.

What are the Symptoms of Convergence Insufficiency?

When people have convergence insufficiency, symptoms that have an impact on their vision include seeing double and blurry vision. When reading words, the text will appear to move and drift around on the page. They often lose their concentration and forget which lines on a page they have read.

After reading a block of text, they will often forget what they just read. In addition to vision problems, individuals will also experience physical symptoms. These often include headaches, soreness in the eyes and tiredness. Individuals may also squint or cover one of their eyes while reading.

Convergence Insufficiency Causes

Convergence insufficiency appears to be caused by misalignment of the muscles which control the eyes, but it isn’t completely clear why this occurs. In many cases, the condition is diagnosed during childhood or adolescence when the child has no history of injury or illness which could have caused the misalignment. This is known as primary convergence insufficiency.

In other cases, particularly when the condition comes about suddenly and often in adulthood, other medical conditions or injuries are to blame.

Known as secondary convergence insufficiency, it might be caused by:

  • Infection of the eye
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Neurodegenerative disease (such as Parkinson’s disease)
  • Myasthenia gravis (an autoimmune disorder which causes muscle weakness)
  • Graves ophthalmology (an autoimmune disorder which causes inflammation of the tissues surrounding the eyes)

How is Convergence Insufficiency Treated?

One of the most common treatments for convergence insufficiency is performing various eye exercises to help the eyes focus together on the same object. Some of these exercises can be done using software programs on a home computer.

If preferred, individuals can do their eye therapy at the doctor’s clinic. Another option for treating convergence insufficiency is to wear prism reading glasses that help people who have double vision. If eye exercises or glasses do not seem to help this condition, some individuals may elect to have a surgical procedure to correct their vision.

Convergence Insufficiency Prevention

Since the cause of convergence insufficiency isn’t completely understood, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that it can be prevented. However, since eye infections can occasionally be to blame for the problem and these can be prevented, it’s important to follow some key eye hygiene practices.

To avoid eye infections, avoid touching the eyes and face and always wash hands thoroughly before doing so. It’s also important to avoid sharing washcloths or towels with individuals who are known to have an eye infection.

Makeup worn around the eyes and tools used to apply it should not be shared by different people without thorough disinfection first. Take care also to avoid using eye makeup which is out of date; follow the recommendations on makeup packaging to learn how long to use a product for before it should be replaced.

Those who wear contact lenses should also take care to wash hands before inserting or removing lenses and should follow the lens cleaning and storage procedures recommended to them by their optometrist. Never wear contact lenses for longer than recommended and have regular examinations with your optometrist.

Individuals who think they have contracted an eye infection should seek out treatment as soon as possible. The faster the infection is resolved, the less risk there is of complications like convergence insufficiency.

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Last Reviewed:
October 05, 2016
Last Updated:
December 08, 2017
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