Functional vision problems: What happens if your child’s eyes fail to work as a team?

When your child is doing close work, such as reading, writing, or using a mobile device or computer, he or she needs to be able to keep both eyes turned in to point at the same position. The ability to move, turn, and point the eyes together, is called eye teaming.

Eye teaming is a function that people with normal healthy visual systems do naturally, without thinking about it. However, if your child has a functional vision problem known as Convergence Insufficiency, eye teaming is a challenge.

Convergence insufficiency  is a common two-eyed (binocular) disorder affecting a child’s near vision. It interferes with a person’s ability to see clearly at close distances, making it challenging to read, learn, and complete tasks. People with Convergence Insufficiency find it difficult to keep their eyes working together smoothly as a team, and their eyes tend to drift outwardly when attempting to focus on text or other items at a near distance.

Unfortunately, this problem often goes undetected in children because standard eye exams and school vision screenings do not test for convergence insufficiency. Your child could have passed a typical eye exam with 20/20 eyesight and still have convergence insufficiency.

Additionally, you may not readily notice your child’s uncoordinated or drifting eye movements. Even subtle differences in eye teaming, that are not easily observed by parents or teachers, can cause a significant hindrance to learning.

Symptoms of convergence insufficiency, or poor eye teaming skills, include:

  • double vision
  • blurred vision
  • headaches
  • eye fatigue

Here is an image that demonstrates how text appears to a child with convergence insufficiency:


Signs your child could be struggling with convergence insufficiency include:

  • covering or closing one eye while reading
  • rubbing eyes excessively
  • attempting to avoid reading or homework
  • seeming to have a short attention span
  • fatigue quickly while doing close work
  • losing place while reading

You may notice that while your child did not have trouble reading initially, he struggles with reading speed, fluency, and comprehension, which appears to get worse with prolonged attempts to read.

If you suspect your child may have a learning-related vision problem such as poor eye teaming skills, schedule a functional vision exam with a developmental optometrist right away.

If you are in Olney or Silver Spring, Maryland contact Dr. Philip Nicholson’s Visual Learning Center today.

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