An inability or decreased ability to converge the eyes whilst focusing on a near object is described as convergence insufficiency. Those who suffer from convergence insufficiency cannot properly maintain binocular vision when focusing on the near objects. This is of great importance especially when writing or reading.
To alleviate the discomfort and eyestrain during reading or writing or any kind of near activities, patients often close one eye when performing them. Thus, they ameliorate the symptoms of improper binocular fusion, which include:
- double vision,
- blurry vision,
- fatigue and
- tension in the eyes as well as
- trouble reading due to loss of focus.
The connection between Strabismus and Convergence Insufficiency
Roughly 10-20 percent of those who have strabismus, also experience convergence insufficiency of some degree. Considering that about 1-3 percent of people experience strabismus, the burden of convergence insufficiency in the population is not at all small. There is a lot of debate about why convergence insufficiency ensues, and the truth is that we still do not know precisely.
Orthoptic exercises are the way to go
More than 150 years ago the first treatment for convergence insufficiency was proposed, and since then many different treatment options, the most important being orthoptic exercises, have been suggested.
Generally, treatment options include home-based exercises, some special in-office exercises, and newly developed computer program-based training. One of the most commonly used home-based exercise to tackle convergence insufficiency is pencil push-up. Whilst slowly moving the tip of the pencil towards their nose the patient tries to maintain binocular single vision, thus better their convergence abilities. The studies have shown that simple pencil push-ups can be as effective as much more complex and pricier in-office exercises if they are performed correctly and frequently enough.
The problem is that especially younger children often find such exercises extremely boring, leading to compliance issues. For those exercises such as convergence cards, stereograms and computer-based convergence exercises were introduced. Especially computer-based convergence exercises are becoming more and more popular as they enable much greater involvement and are therefore much more interesting and entertaining for younger children.
In some very refractory and rare cases, surgery might be the last resort option, although it is rarely used due to the high risk of inducing diplopia at distance after surgery. Convergence insufficiency is more often than not solved using exercises and training that we briefly touched upon in this article.
Luckily, as boring as convergence insufficiency exercises may be, they are extremely effective, as it is believed that the success rate is about 80%. Frequent follow-up visits combined with good compliance to prescribed convergence exercises should bring the results everyone wishes for.
AmblyoPlay against convergence insufficiency
AmblyoPlay is a gamified vision therapy that helps with convergence insufficiency by using dichoptic vision therapy. As we split the image that each eye receives while maintaining focal points, we engage the brain to start creating a single image. It can be used at home on your devices and only requires active subscription and AmblyoPlay Box. You can check your options HERE!