Convergence insufficiency and excess and what it means for children’s vision.
Healthy muscles are vital for all bodily functions to work properly, and eye muscles are no exception. Muscle dysfunction can affect the ability of the two eyes to coordinate their focus on the same point and in the right place, when looking at something close by, and this can result in blurred or double vision, according to Australian behavioural optometrist, Jacqueline Gattegno.
She says about 15% of people, and many children diagnosed with ADHD, battle with uncoordinated eye movements caused by convergence dysfunction, which affects the degree to which both eyes, which function independently, are able to work together and move in such way as to bring their independent focuses together on an object that’s close by.
If they overdo the required turn inwards by turning too far, the overzealous turning will result an excess of convergence which causes the teamed focus to fall far short of the object. But if, on the contrary, the eyes tend to move outwards instead of inwards, their teamed focus point or convergence will be far beyond the close-up objects like books or work that are being looked at, which is seen as being as being insufficient convergence.
Gattegno says that it has been suggested by researchers that if left untreated and uncured, convergence excess errors may result in myopia, a serious refractive error which allows only for close vision.
When it comes to learning skills, she says convergence issues do not affect children’s ability to learn how to read, but they can impact on how they interpret and understand what they have read because the focus on the words is blurred or doubled. And these errors can also affect the fluency with which children read, specially when expected to do so for a long time.
The energy taken in attempting to correct the double vision or clear the blur by trying to move the eyes to the right convergence point by stopping them from turning too far inward or outward, can also result in frustration and other issues. This can affect a child’s ability to read and work close up and could result in eye strain.
Increasing the negative impact of this eye muscle dysfunction, Gattegno says, is that many of those affected by it may not even know they have it; what it means; and why or how it can be corrected.
She says neither convergence insufficiency nor convergence excess can be identified using standard eye tests; nor can they be treated with standard glasses, both of which are aimed at improving vision clarity, and not at identifying and correcting dysfunctions.
On the other hand, a binocular vision (two eye vision) assessment can determine the presence of convergence areas. The use of prism glasses and office-based vision therapy assisted by home reinforcement, have been identified as very effective ways to diagnose and correct convergence issues.
For more information on behavioural optometry, convergence errors, and vision therapy, or to book an appointment, visit the Smart Vision website: Optometrists Sydney: Optometry Services For Children and Adults | Smart Vision; for specific information about Myopia treatment and prevention visit Myopia Prevention: Solutions, Control And Treatment In Sydney; and for detailed information about Myopia Treatment visit Orthokeratology In Sydney: The Non Surgical Alternative.
To book an appointment for a thorough eye check-up, click here or Call the Bondi clinic on (02) 9365 5047 or the Mosman clinic on (02) 9969 1600.
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Disclaimer: The views, suggestions, and opinions expressed here are the sole responsibility of the experts. No THE 2 SIDE STORY journalist was involved in the writing and production of this article.