Sunday, April 27, 2008

I've Been Learning About Convergence Insufficiency (an Eye Tracking Problem)

I am sharing some information I have learned about convergence insufficiency, one of the ‘eye tracking’ diagnoses that exist. I’m sharing this in case it helps you in some way. This is not a comprehensive article or ‘everything there is to know’ on the topic as I have been learning about it for just a short while. There are other conditions related to ‘eye tracking problems’. I am speaking here about my own family’s experience and specifically about convergence insufficiency.

My older son was recently diagnosed as having convergence insufficiency.

Last fall to help out a former teacher who is attending graduate school to get a master’s degree to be a reading specialist teacher, I offered my older son as a guinea pig, she needed a student to administer tests to for a class she was taking. The student, a former fifth grade teacher, needed a child to give a whole battery of reading comprehension tests to, so that she could learn to administer and evaluate the tests. She had to compile a case study about her findings. She had to give multiple tests that tested the same thing so that she could see the different tests that are used by different school systems (in other words some tests repeated what other tests did, some were faster, some were more comprehensive and some evaluated the issue from different approaches). At the end, I was presented with her findings.

One of the things I was told was that she witnessed what she thought might be an ‘eye tracking’ problem that happened only when he was reading two or more paragraphs of text (it didn’t happen on the tests with shorter passages to read). Hearing that my son may have an ‘eye tracking’ problem came as a complete surprise to me. I had first heard of these ‘eye tracking’ problems while working in my last job at an insurance company and I know some people whose children are currently undergoing vision therapy but I didn’t know much about that condition.

She said she had witnessed my son skipping words here and there; they were usually words like “a” and “the”. She said that the problem was not evident when he was reading one sentence or a few, or even one paragraph. However when he was reading few paragraphs or when the whole page was of text, the problem happened. In those cases he sometimes stumbled in the middle of a sentence and ‘lost his place’. He rushed through reading aloud (as usual) then would stumble on the words. He also sometimes had trouble finding the next line to read, sometimes re-reading the same line, sometimes stopping to find the line, and other times skipping a line or more of text. When he did that, she felt he didn’t even know he did it, and he was missing content as a result, which was impacting his reading comprehension because he had not read some of the text. Later if he was asked a question regarding the skipped content he got the answer wrong, because he had never read that content. That brought down his test score. (Make sure to see my note later about how different tests can hide or highlight this condition.)

I was told by this student “I don’t know what to do about this observation”. I replied, “I know what to do. I am taking him to an eye doctor that specializes in evaluating and treating eye tracking problems.” This type of doctor is called a Behavioral Optometrist, they have special training to give exams and diagnose these conditions. Eye tracking is not something normally tested on what is called a ‘visual acuity’ exam which is the test where they say if you have 20/20 vision or if you are near or far sighted.

I first learned of this diagnosis with a negative label on “eye tracking” conditions. When I worked at a medical insurance company (an HMO), they had a policy to not pay for eye tracking therapy. The belief back then (in the mid 1990s) was that this was “not real” and was “snake oil medicine”. I was told that they did vision therapy that was ‘very basic and could be done at home but that many optometrists force patients to do them in the office and bill out high prices for simple exercises that the parent should be trained to do at home’. Some doctors said, “The doctors should train the parents to do the simple exercises and have them do it at home but instead some do it in their office and bill out high prices for every visit.”

In between learning that opinion and hearing that my son might have a problem, I have read a little about homeschooled students having trouble reading then being diagnosed with eye tracking problems and being helped tremendously by vision therapy. I also have a homeschooling mother friend who I knew had a child diagnosed with a tracking problem who had found a doctor they trusted. I called her immediately to get the name of their Behavioral Optometrist.

Before I tell you what happened I’ll share what I have observed as a homeschooling mother with regard to my son’s reading. I had taught him to read with Alpha Phonics, a systematic intensive phonics method of instruction. I waited for all the signs of reading readiness. After several failed attempts to start teaching it, I gave up not being able to handle my son’s protests. I finally forced the issue when he was aged 5.5 and in the second half of what was supposed to be ‘homeschool Kindergarten’. I thought his defiance was a sign of a resistance to authority which was truly the first time he ever exhibited that to me (so it was coming as a surprise). He learned to read slowly but surely, and finished the curriculum. When he read aloud to me it was smooth and he did not skip words.

For first grade and second grade he was reading easy readers and books with controlled vocabulary set at certain reading levels. He read the leveled readers as well as some old school textbooks with controlled vocabulary (similar to the Dick and Jane readers) then on to easy chapter books like Magic Tree House (second grade reading level).

By third grade he was reading the Boxcar Children series (third grade reading level) and loved them, reading many in that series. At that time in third grade he was still not reading ‘chapter books’ in his spare time. Instead he was reading nonfiction books such as the DK Eyewitness books that have snippets of text, comics such as The Far Side and Calvin and Hobbes, mail order catalogs that sold things of his interest (he would study them and memorize them) and magazines. He would also pick up picture books and read those on his own. My son was not happy to read ‘chapter books’ and would only read them in the time I forced him to read them, for example, reading 20 minutes in second grade. Also at that time one time my son began complaining about blurry vision. I took him for an eye test with an ophthalmologist because when I was seven I got my first pair of glasses and there is a 50/50 chance that my children may have inherited my poor eyesight. I was told his vision was normal and he didn’t need glasses of any kind. That was exactly two years ago.

In the fourth grade year my son threw a fit when I refused to let him go on with The Boxcar Children series. Those books are set at a third grade reading level. I figured ‘enough is enough’ and it was time for him to move on to books with more difficult vocabulary and stretch the content horizons further. I chose other chapter books that were on a fourth grade level for him to read. In that grade he continued with not wanting to read any chapter books in his spare time. In his spare time he kept reading those other types of books, sometimes for up to three or four hours a day. About the books he’d read he would complain about certain books and say things like this:

“I want books with a larger font.”

“The words are too crowded, I want wider margins.”

“I prefer books with pictures in them.”

“That book is too thick.”

“I like books with short chapters.”

I was frustrated by these comments from my son. You see he was reading 45 minutes a day for his reading practice. In my eyes the length of the chapter does not matter if a person is reading a certain number of minutes per day. If the font is large enough, what does it matter what the total page count of a book is?

My son also resisted reading books to himself on topics for our homeschooling such as reading about science or history. I continued to do read aloud’s instead.

All this time my son had been listening to audio books as well. He has a very long attention span and loves to hear fiction books which are recorded. My son was unable, in the month that he turned ten, to read the whole Harry Potter book. He read half of the last book in the series the night it came out as he was at a sleepover where all the kids stayed up all night reading it. Even though he was dying to find out what happened he refused to read the rest of the book. I refused to read it aloud saying he was being lazy to not read it to himself. He waited a couple of months until we finally were able to borrow the audio book from the public library (we were on a waiting list that whole time).

In discussing these things with my homeschool mom friends, other parents and my reading specialist teacher friend, I was told things like this:

“Not all boys like to read long books at that age.”

“Boys that age love comics and magazines, that is typical.”

“Children of that age should just be playing a lot anyway.”

“When he gets a little older he will stop playing so much and may turn to reading for pleasure more.”

“Your son reads lots of other types of things so when he is older he will probably love to read a lot of fiction books, this is just a stage.”

“He knows to read when he needs to find out information and that is what reading is really for so don’t worry.”

“Not all people are big readers of fiction, you know.”

Symptoms of Convergence Insufficiency

I learned these after the diagnosis of my son was made.

Our doctor told me that often children with convergence insufficiency appear lazy. They may just not seem to like reading. They may not read regular books that are ‘on grade level’ for pleasure, books with many words on the page. They might be reading only when forced. They may prefer comics (remember they don’t have huge blocks of text on a white background). They can read but they may just seem to not like to read. They like books and like stories read to them but just don’t read the stories to themselves as we assume they would want to, especially if they have heard part of the story read aloud and are anxious to get further along in the book. They may gravitate to read books that are easier such as older children reading easy picture books. The children may complain of the length of time that they are reading, such as want to stop after ten minutes or something.

I want to add, before you read this symptom list, that some of these things may be known to your child but your child may not ever tell these to you. My son who I am close to and who communicates many things to me easily did not share some of the symptoms with me even though after his diagnosis when asked directly he affirmed that he was having those experiences. I think this is because the children assume that everyone has these things happen to them and they don’t realize they are a problem.

The Evaluation with the Behavioral Optometrist

So I made the appointment with the Behavioral Optometrist who I was told does not ‘rip you off’ and who I was told is very nice to the children and is sincere and down to earth with the parents. I ended up waiting about ten weeks for our appointment. Our old medical insurance (which usually had great coverage) did not cover this evaluation and therapy but the new insurance that just began for us does cover it (which I am not very happy with their general coverage) does cover this evaluation and treatment. So I see that not all insurance plans cover this type of service.

My son was diagnosed as having a limited field of vision. I was told it is ‘not severe’. That impacts his reading ability because he can only see one or two words at a time. I was told that usually kids of that age can see five or six words at one time. The limited ability to see larger chunks of text makes the eyes jump and jerk and the reading does not flow along in a more sweeping manner. The reading is then slower. Comprehension can be affected negatively.

I was told that my son also has “convergence insufficiency”. This is where the two eyes don’t focus on one central point. Imagine when you first try to look through binoculars and each eye sees different things, then after you adjust them the image comes into one central focus. Well right now my son’s two eyes see two different things and they struggle to come into focus. In order to see one thing, the child has to try to use information from just one eye. I was told that some children whose conditions are more severe than my sons’ end up turning their heads and others squint or close one eye while reading.

My son also is having double vision at 18 inches distance instead of at 2-3 inches which is considered the norm. So sometimes when reading my son was seeing double vision.

Lastly my son was diagnoses as needing reading glasses. As I previously explained I had him evaluated by an ophthalmologist at age eight and was told that his near and far vision was perfect. So I know this change has happened in the last two years. My son now admits that he began noticing a change in his vision while reading ‘about one year ago’. (Why he never discussed this with me is beyond my comprehension. We have discussed this at length and I have drilled it into both children’s heads that if they sense any blurriness or fogginess or anything like that to tell me as soon as possible!)

This symptom list is from this page at Convergence Note a child does not have to have all of these symptoms!

• eyestrain (especially with or after reading)
• headaches
• inability to concentrate
• short attention span
• frequent loss of place
• squinting, rubbing, closing or covering an eye
• blurred vision
• sleepiness (especially while reading)
• trouble remembering what was read
• words move, jump, swim or appear to float on the page
• problems with motion sickness and/or vertigo
• double vision
• trouble catching balls and other objects thrown through the air
• avoidance of tasks that require depth perception (games involving smaller balls, handicrafts, hand eye coordination, etc.)
• frequent mishaps due to misjudgment of distances (particularly within twenty feet), such as:
• trips and stumbles on uneven surfaces, stairs, and curbs, etc.
• frequent spilling or knocking over of objects
• bumping into doors and other objects
• sports and/or car parking accidents
• avoidance of eye contact
• poor posture
• one shoulder noticeably higher
• frequent head tilt
• problems with motion sickness and/or vertigo

My Son’s Treatment

The first step for my son’s treatment was to get prescription reading glasses for his visual acuity problem. Those glasses also have a ‘passive’ therapy for his convergence insufficiency; they have a ‘prism’ in the lens. When my son put his glasses on for the first time and read, he was amazed and surprised. He said the words were clear and ‘so big’ and ‘easy to read’. His reading speed picked up immediately, with a 25% increase in page count in the same book he was reading in the days before he got his new glasses. Within a week after getting his new glasses he began reading fiction books for pleasure. In week three, to share the change, for pleasure he began reading a book in the evening (for one hour) and read it two more hours as soon as he woke up and finished it. In the next 24 hours he read the second book in the series. In the next 24 hours he read the third book in the series. He has never read through fiction books that fast and this was 100% self-motivated and not forced upon him by me as part of his ‘homeschooling reading practice’.

The second form of vision therapy that he will receive will be light therapy (syntonic phototherapy is the technical term for it). I will rent a unit from the doctor when one becomes available. We will do that therapy at home. My cost will be $60 for three months of renting the unit. This doctor said he has had large success with only the light therapy. He saw no difference when combining ‘vision therapy exercises’ with light therapy, so he now doesn’t bother with those exercises for all of this patients. I was told that my son’s condition will improve with about two months of light therapy. I can’t wait to begin! We are on a wait list for the unit so we have not started yet.

Snake Oil Medicine?

I had a conversation with our Behavioral Optometrist about why it is that some ophthalmologists and other doctors feel that eye tracking problems are ‘not real’. He explained that like everything else with western medicine, the doctors don’t usually believe things unless many studies show proof and until it is declared to be ‘accepted’ in the medical community. He said that in the last ten years, and even in the last fifteen, that the body of research studies showing that this is real and that the therapies work has been growing. Despite this, some doctors still don’t know much about it, especially those from ‘the old school’ who had already accepted the other notion of ‘that is not real’.

Another issue is that these ‘eye tracking’ disorders are not tested or diagnosed by a ‘regular’ eye exam for visual acuity which is what the ophthalmologists do during their ‘normal exam’. This is not tested by Pediatrician’s in the physical exams done either. The eye tracking problems have to be diagnosed with other tests, one simple one being to determine at what distance the patient sees double vision. This is why a child with a suspected eye tracking problem can visit an ophthalmologist and come away without a diagnosis for the different eye tracking problems. Also some children may be told they have ‘perfect vision’ (meaning their visual acuity is fine) and don’t need glasses while others may come away with normal reading glasses but still no diagnosis or treatment for the eye tracking problem. This could be especially problematic if a teacher or reading specialist recommends that their student be tested then they go and are told they have ‘good vision’.

I agree from knowing about other medical conditions, such as Lyme Disease or even breastfeeding, how doctors can sometimes hold fast to old notions even after new information is well known. For example doctors used to think that baby formula was more healthy for babies than breast milk because it was made in a lab with special formulations. Some doctors had to wait to be shown by medical studies that human milk was better for babies than processed baby formula. Even today when the AAP and other ‘experts’ say that breastfeeding is best some doctors do not really discuss it or encourage pregnant women to breastfeed.

A Neurological Basis

Eye tracking problems are neurologically based. This is a ‘brain’ issue. This is not a ‘biology of the eyeball’ condition. I was told that if left untreated eye tracking problems can lead to eye muscle problems though, such as “lazy eye”. Sometimes then the “lazy eye” is recommended to have eye surgery.

My son’s doctor actually said that one cause of this neurological condition is Lyme Disease, which my son has had four different times since age three, his last case being last fall right in the middle of the testing period. It is well known that Lyme Disease can cause neurological problems but I’d never heard it linked to eye tracking disorders.

Reading Below Grade Level and Reading Comprehension

My son’s behavioral optometry exam also tested reading speed and tracking speed which are negatively affected if a child has convergence insufficiency and causes the child to read like they are younger. In other words a ten year old may test as reading like an eight year old speed level. This could also be a problem for children taking timed tests!

I mention this because some children may be told in school that they are ‘slow readers’ or that they are ‘reading below grade level’.

A teacher may say that their student has a problem with ‘reading comprehension’. The convergence problem also negatively affects reading comprehension due to the word skipping and line skipping. Losing the place on the line also interrupts the processing of the information and can contribute to problems with retention of information or reading comprehension. If the child constantly is thinking about where his eyes should rest and what word he should be reading it interrupts his ability to concentrate JUST on the content he is reading. Not only may he skip words and miss content but he may not be paying attention enough or may forget the content he has just read.

Do Schools Always Catch This?

It is my understanding that not all students in school will be identified as having an eye tracking problem because not every student gets screened in a way that would allow a teacher to see this. It is my understanding that only students who are sent for special reading testing due to ‘serious’ problems with reading will do the type of tests that the evaluator MIGHT CATCH.

I spoke to my reading specialist teacher friend about this and she said she had not heard of it until just a few weeks ago when she herself was at the ophthalmologists’ office and waiting for her appointment and saw an article posted in the waiting room from The New York Times which discussed eye tracking problems. When I told my friend the symptoms especially the one about children squinting to shut one eye and turning their head when reading she said she had a student right now who was with her for reading problems and she told the mother to get her general vision tested. She now said she will learn more about this because she now realizes that she needs to refer them to a Behavioral Optometrist with experience treating eye tracking problems.

Even if the student undergoes a full reading testing with the reading specialists, it might not be found. Remember that I said my son had done a battery of tests? Some of those tests were not ‘catching’ the problem. He aced some of the reading comprehension tests, the ones that had one or a few sentences of text read and tested. It was only the test that had long text and more than one paragraph that caught my son’s condition—because his eye tracking problem does not kick in until he has read more than one paragraph of text. (That is why he likes to read comics, graphic novels, magazines and books with snippets of text.) So, depending on what test the child is given in school, they may or may not ever catch the problem.

So---it is now my opinion that all parents should familiarize themselves with eye tracking problem symptoms and watch for them in their own children—before you suspect a problem. The symptoms are subtle and can easily be missed or though of as ‘normal’ or ‘a stage’. One symptom from the list is not a red flag but if you see several of these things happening plus issues with difficulty learning or doing schoolwork, the parent should seek an evaluation with a Behavioral Optometrist.

Note that all the testing and treatment for eye tracking problems is done in the private sector or at home, not in the school, so the parent must be an active partner in watching for, seeking a medical opinion of, and seeking treatment for this condition with the right kind of health care professional (a Behavioral Optometrist). It is not ‘the school’s problem’ so don’t just put the onus on the school to look for, diagnose and treat eye tracking conditions in your child.

What Our Doctor Wants Teachers to Know

Our Behavioral Optometrist asked me to tell the teacher who tested my son this information. (I had explained that the reading tester suspected tracking problems in Jay during the testing process.) In your future work with children if you spot a tracking problem it is important to refer them to a “Behavioral Optometrist” not to just a regular optometrist or an ophthalmologist because those two only check visual acuity and they do not test for the tracking issue. A child can have 20/20 vision and still have convergence insufficiency. If left uncorrected, this tracking problem, I was told, not only will result in more problems doing schoolwork and reading long passages of text but it can cause the eye(s) to turn even more outward and make the situation worse and harder to correct, the longer it is allowed to go on. If the eye turns away a lot, an eye muscle problem may occur that ophthalmologists may recommend eye muscle surgery for. The tracking problems should be addressed correctly, as soon as it is identified. Just as with other medical problems, a problem found early can be treated easier and more quickly than one that is left untreated for a longer time.

Links About Convergence Insufficiency


Syntonic Phototherapy

a New York Times article

Wikipedia entry Convergence Insufficiency

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Esther said...

That is very interesting, Christine!

I have been crosseyed to one degree or another my entire life and I, too, have difficulty tracking. It takes a lot of effort, and usually one squinted or closed eye, to read chapter books on my own or to my kids. I have learned to compensate so it's not as bad as it used to be. I didn't realize a person with normal eyes could have the same problem.

I'm going to look up behavioral optometrists/ophthalmologists in our area to see if I can have my son evaluated. I was sitting here on the brink of tears because of his academic difficulty. He's a smart kid; he just doesn't "do school" very well.

Thanks for the encouragement.

christinemm said...

I received this by private email.

"It's funny that you commented on my blog now, as I was planning to write to say thanks for the behavioral optometry info on yours. My 13 y.o. son, (name removed), was evaluated by Dr. D--- yesterday and will be getting his prism lenses and starting vision therapy soon (ouch on the $, but so be it -- I just hope it helps). We haven't explored the diagnosis and therapies very much yet, but will use your post and links as a springboard."

I am glad that someone benefited from reading my post. It is not my intention to imply that all kids have this, certainly they do not, I wrote it so that if a parent saw some troubles but didn't know the symptoms were actually linked with an official diagnosis it could help them explore that avenue.

I spent a lot of time writing the post. I wanted details in my story so readers can see that my son was not a total failure with reading, and how I never suspected that his statements and behaviors were abnormal.

Soon I will post what has happened in this last week with a reading explosion he has gone through. I just don't have time to write it up right now. I have more housecleaning to do and a doctor's appointment to get to...

Shelly said...

I am a behavioral optometrist, a faculty member at a college of optometry and a Fellow of the College of Optometrists in Vison Development ( Thank you for writing about your son and how vision therapy has helped him. It is through the efforts of people like you that behavioral optometrists will be able to help more children like your son.
-- Dr. Rochelle Mozlin

Jennifer said...


I'm a producer for Radio Health Journal, an award-winning program airing on some 440 stations nationally. I'm actually putting together a segment on convergence insufficiency and after reading this excellent post I was hoping you might agree to a telephone interview sometime in the next week or so to talk about convergence insufficiency and the effect it has had on both you and your son. The interview can be taped at your convenience and would take about 15-20 minutes.

If you have any interest, please feel free to contact me by email at Thank you for your consideration and have a great day.

wrongshoes said...

This is very informative. Do you know at what age a child can be tested? My DS is 3.5 and has always been very clumsy (trips a lot). He also refuses to look at books by himself (and always has), but loves audio books and being read to. Also, did you notice your son's eyes looking strange at all? I occasionally think my son's eyes look funny, but I can't put my finger on it. The pediatrician has never thought anything was wrong with his eyes, and he even passed the eyesight test in her office.

christinemm said...

Hi wrongshoes,
No my son does not have his eyes crossing or doing visible things to look strange.

I don't know much about other eye issues to know which might be related to being 'strange looking'.

Did you see my other, more recent blog post with a long list of links to read online about eye tracking issues? There is also some info there about strabismus.

I don't know at what age a Behavioral Optometrist can test for eye tracking problems.

One thing that all humans must learn is in their native language which way do they read? In English speaking countries part of the learning to read process is training the eyes to start at the left and move to the right then return to the left and repeat.

In other countries they read right to left so there they have to learn the opposite way.

I would suggest when reading to your son you put his finger on the line and yours on top then follow along when you read. That is a training exercise that can be done years before they actually start to read.

Regarding him not looking at books all I can say is do you have tons laying around the house? Safe board books and is he being encouraged to pick them up? Or does he feel scared he might rip a page?

Just because he doesn't pick up a book on his own---well it might just mean he is more interested in playing with whatever great toys you have in your home.

justme said...

Hi, I just found your blog after having a very frustrating day trying to find some support on the internet for parents of children with CI. I have no background in anything that would have prepared me to deal with/look for Dr's that test and places that do VT.

My 8 yr old son is 5 (out of 12) sessions in, and I haven't seen a measurable change. With school starting soon I am so concerned about this. So, I would like to thank you helping to put me at ease and giving me hope that the VT, along with exercises we do at home is completely worth it in the long run.


christinemm said...

Dear Justme,
I don't know the treatment plan prescribed, the frequency or how aggressive the Dr. is being.

First I'll say that my son did a light therapy for 21 days for 20 minutes a day. That nearly resolved everything and it was a piece of cake to do. But not all doctors do that. It is called syntonic phototherapy and it sounds wacky when you read about it.

After 8 months my son was re-evaluated and he was just below chronological age for reading speed. So he recently began home VT doing 'eye exercises' which actually are 'neurodevelopmental exercises' that help the brain speed up visual processing.

Those exercises that my son is doing are quite hard! I have trouble doing them. They use paper on the wall and a metronome. The newest thing is a computer program that flashes sequences of numbers and he has to try to remember what they were with accuracy. He loves that one.

My son was being a good sport and not even really complaining. But on his recheck he displayed disappointment in himself and the Dr. was shocked as he said he was actually doing fantastic with his performance and exceeded the Dr.'s expectations & that my son was being too hard on himself. It was encouraging to hear the praise. Also I was clueless that my son was being hard on himself. If I had a clue of it I would have intentionally boosted him up with more praise at home.

I also was already making jokes and laughing through the process so it was not torture. Like laughing that the thing is so hard and how crazy is it to have to read letters going back and forth and going faster and faster with the metronome? Also like when the letters he had to read aloud said, "F, U," we cracked up (it surprised us to have the letters arranged that way).

I also noticed my son does terrible at night. I try to do them in the morning or early afternoon.

So what I want to say to you is this. First give lots of praise. Second, do them early in the day. Third, as the Dr. how vigorous this has to be. In other words if your child struggles with doing it as prescribed perhaps the Dr. can cut it back to slower or less numbers of exercises or something. It is better, the Dr. would probably agree, to start easier and have success then move up to harder and harder.

If you have questions ask the doctor. If you are not happy with the Dr. get a new one. Remember they work for US, we are the customer.

My son is to do 5-6 days a week and it takes 30 minutes per time. I'm under the impression my son will only do this for about 3 months. However some moms told me they did this 3-4x a week x3 years which reached burn out and had power struggles before total resolution was had.

You could also consider a reward program, if you are open to those. So many days of completion and he gets a gift or $5 or $10 or a trip to the movies or something. I feel that the carrot dangling sometimes works...

Hang in there.

Michael G. West said...

Thank you for your post. I just took my 8-year-old son to the opthamologist yesterday because he had been complaining about blurry vision and words "jumping around on the page." Your son's situation sounded almost identical to mine! I homeschool as well and he complains of reading books with small print, but enjoys reading easier books (Magic Tree House, Boxcar Children). I had no idea there was a problem with his eyes, but I took him in because the insurance paid for it and just to make sure. The doctor immediately diagnosed it as convergence insufficiency and prescribed doing "pencil pushups" at home for 10 minutes a day as well as prism glasses (he also had mild farsightedness) just to help him with his schoolwork. Did your son only wear the glasses for reading? And did he not need them anymore after the therapy you did? I am afraid of my son's eyes getting worse from dependence on the glasses from some of the things I've read on the internet. I will look up your other links as I research this further. Thank you! Kim

WonderAshley said...

Hi, my name is Ashley and I was diagnosed with Convergence Insufficiency while at boot camp for the Navy, unfortunately this caused me to be discharged. I read what you wrote about the prism glasses. Would you recommend the glasses first or the vision therapy for a first step. And if you don't mind me asking, how much were the prism glasses? I'm trying to get my eyes fixed asap so I can return to training. By the way thank you so much for posting this information. I have learned a lot from reading it.

ChristineMM said...

Hi Ashley, I am not a doctor and can't give medical advice. With that said, the prism glasses were done by the behavioral optometrist along with a mild reading glasses. They are prescription lenses prepared by the optician lab and made into glasses by the optician. They don't look like anything different or special to the naked eye.

With that said, I will also share that since having neurofeedback for neurological issues from Lyme Disease and multiple fevers and mono, my son had worked the area of the brain for visual processing and now he can read perfectly without using his precription eyeglases and in fact he gets headaches and has a hard time reading with them on. So, it seems the neurofeedback therapy has resolved his convergence insufficiency! So there is another avenue you may want to pursue which is much faster than vision therapy. Neurofeedback is newer and cutting edge neuroscience where the prism lens and vision therapy exercises are older and more labor intensive too.

Unknown said...

Hi, I happened upon this post and am wondering if the radio program (Radio Health Journal) that you were invited to join in on ever happened? I would love to listen to it if you can help with a link. Thank you! My email address is

ChristineMM said...

Unknown / Kelly, no the interview never took place, unfortunately!

Jen said...

Hi Christine,

Thank you for all of the helpful information. Would you be willing to share more information about your son's experience with neurofeedback?

Thank you,

ChristineMM said...

I thought I already blogged about neurofeedback. I have my blog labels going in order of frequency so it is not good for looking up topics by alphabetical order (sorry).

Google "neurofeedback" and my blog name and I think you will find them easily.

My son made great strides with NF but it was not a fix all at 100% cure nor did they ever promise it to be. He had almost 40 visits the first year then a break for 6-7 months then restarted for new symptoms of other things then had about 50 visits total for multiple target areas (not 50 visits for one diagnosis or brain area).

I cannot stress enough to please consider using ONLY BOARD CERTIFIED neurofeedback providers see do not use websites or un-certified local providers becasue YOU ARE CHANGING THEIR BRAIN and if done not customized you can LOWER their cognitive ability. (MAKE THEM STUPIDER.)

Our goal was to raise up the weaknesses and keep the abnormal above-normal functioning brain areas high. My son is gifted so his cognitive ability is HIGHER THAN NORMAL and higher than the Z-Scored is set at.

ChristineMM said...

Using google I just pulled up 8 different blog posts in which I mention NF & his progress.

Lluviafresca said...

Christine, thank you for writing the post and answer all the comments.
My mom is in Argentina with a Maculopathy degeneration and she wants to do the Sytonic therapy to recover as much as can the vision in both eyes. Where can i buy the intruments or devices to do it? Im in Israel right now, and of course in Argentina there is not much about this.
Regards, Alejandro.
My email is

ChristineMM said...

Hello, thank you for commenting on my blog. I have only seen expensive units online for syntonic phototherapy. You can find them using google. However even if you own the unit you do not know how to use it or the timings or colors. You need to be under treatment with a doctor who uses the therapy and knows how to use it.

I have read quite a bit about syntonic phototherapy and have never seen it referenced for macular degeneration. In fact the therapy is a brain process effect, a neurological effect, not an "eyeball" fixing effect. I think you are looking into the wrong treatments.

There are two types of macular degeneration, one is "dry" and is from old age and has no treatment. My grandmother suffered with that when she neared 90 years old.

The "wet" type needs treatment with a doctor and sometimes laser treatment with a doctor is necessary, or prescription drugs. I cannot give medical advice because I am not a doctor. Your mother needs an eye doctor to diagnose and to treat her macular degeneration. You need to learn about macular degeneration and get your mother treatment with an opthalmologist.

Here is a reference.

Good luck.

Lluviafresca said...

she have a lot of problems in her eyes, started to see a big black point on the center of one of them, but have chronic myopi in both... she is doing some excercices that helps her a lot and of course she have the guidance of diferent doctors.
You say in the article that you were going to rent a device to the doctor, you did it? The thing is that i looked in google but i just find information about the therapy. Do you know the name of this device?
Thank you again!

ChristineMM said...

ChristineMM said...


I still say she needs to see an opthalmologist for traditional macular deneration treatments...