Symptoms and causes

Symptoms

Not everyone with convergence insufficiency has signs and symptoms. Signs and symptoms occur while you're reading or doing other close work and might include:

  • Tired, sore or uncomfortable eyes (eyestrain)
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty reading — words seem to float on the page, you lose your place or you read slowly — which might cause you to avoid reading or not complete schoolwork
  • Double vision (diplopia)
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Squinting, rubbing or closing one eye

When to see a doctor

If you or your child has symptoms of convergence insufficiency or problems reading, consult an eye care professional — an ophthalmologist or an optometrist.

Causes

The cause of convergence insufficiency isn't known, but it involves a misalignment of the eyes when focusing on nearby objects. The misalignment involves the muscles that move the eye. Typically, one eye drifts outward when you're focusing on a word or object at close range.

Complications

Difficulties with reading and concentrating can affect a child's learning. Convergence insufficiency does not cause learning disabilities, but it makes using your eyes difficult and tiring.

Convergence insufficiency typically isn't detected in routine eye exams or school-based vision screenings. Reading difficulties of children with the condition might lead to an evaluation for learning disabilities, but it's important to rule out this eye disorder.

July 15, 2017
References
  1. Convergence insufficiency. American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus. https://aapos.org/terms/conditions/38. Accessed April 6, 2017.
  2. Lavrich JB. Convergence insufficiency and its current treatment. Current Opinion in Ophthalmology. 2010;21:356.
  3. Borsting E, et al. Improvement in academic behaviors after successful treatment for convergence insufficiency. Optometry and Vision Science. 2012;89:12.
  4. Scheiman M, et al. Non-surgical interventions for convergence insufficiency. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD006768.pub2/full. Accessed April 6, 2017.
  5. Scheiman M, et al. Home-based therapy for symptomatic convergence insufficiency in children: A randomized clinical trial. Optometry and Vision Science. 2016;93:1457.