Health and Well-Being-Eye disorder may target kids

Convergence insufficiency (CI), an eye-teaming disorder that can cause eye fatigue, headaches, or double vision, may be common among fifth- and sixth-grade children, according to a study by Michael W. Rouse, OD, et al, published in a recent issue of Optometry and Vision Science. It is important for parents to be aware of this vision disorder, as CI may make reading and learning more difficult for their children.

"There was a relatively high prevalence of CI in the population we studied," says Rouse, of the Southern California College of Optometry. "This raises the importance of CI as a public health concern." About 13% of the children given vision examinations in the study demonstrated either definite CI or were highly suspect for CI.

A person must cross, or converge, the eyes together to see, especially when viewing close objects. The eyes of a child with CI have a tendency to turn outward and their convergence ability to compensate for this tendency is inadequate, Rouse explains. The child may then experience eye fatigue, head-aches, or double vision because they must work harder than the average person to keep their eyes aligned and working.

Parents should be alert to possible symptoms of CI in their children since school vision screenings fail to detect it, Rouse adds. All of the children in the study passed a typical school vision screening.

"Parents should not be lulled into thinking that their child's vision is fine if they pass a vision screening," says Rouse. "Event though a child passes a vision screening, symptoms may be an indication that the child needs a professional eye exam."