Why does the binocular vision related medical diagnosis with a funny name, known as Convergence Insufficiency (CI) (ICD-9-CM:378.83), a condition that has the potential to render a life time of struggle to over 20 million people in the US population alone, have so little public awareness? Why, even when this condition has been exhaustively researched through the National Eye Institute in multicenter, prospective, double-blind research and published in October 2008 in the American Medical Association’s Archives of Ophthalmology that spells out the effective modality of treatment, do so many eye doctors seem to pay little attention to identifying and properly treating the condition even when the related impact to the patient can mean a life of frustrating symptoms including eye fatigue, headaches, double vision at near, blurred vision and many more issues.
Let’s face it, the average American family is not normally going to find themselves engaged in a lively discussion about Convergence Insufficiency (CI) around the dinner table. Yet, for nearly 1 in 12 people (children and adults) this visual disorder can have the effect of “draining” the affected individual’s attention and concentration for reading and other academically centered activities resulting in loss of confidence and labels of ADD/ADHD and reduced individual performance.
So, most would agree there exists a serious problem when a condition exists that takes such a heavy toll on the quality of so many human lives, yet there lacks a vigorous public awareness outcry. Instead, the majority of those who suffer with Convergence Insufficiency must cope a list of common symptoms that have been identified by the CITT Investigation Group as:
- Headaches with reading or close work
- Loss of attention and concentration for reading or close work
- Words moving or doubling when reading or close work
- Eye fatigue and/or discomfort with reading or close work
So what are the answers for effective change? First, one way is to is to begin to look for “Bright Spots”. Those examples of good doctors around the US (and internationally) who do provide the proper diagnosis and treatment and set the standard of care for patient advocacy. They are already following the evidence-based research and their patients are seeing the benefit of their decision to learn the necessary clinical skills and patient treatment protocols.
Second, another critically important way to bring about this change is for people to begin to talk about how they or someone they know have been affected by Convergence Insufficiency. Public awareness will come when patients who have lived with CI and have found the help they needed with treatment, step up and tell their story of how this has changed their lives. This can be done by blogging or social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and now a site dedicated to vision advocacy…Sovoto.
As one example of a patient who found help is our patient Samantha who was diagnosed with Convergence Insufficiency by her primary care optometrist, Dr. Carrie Campbell. Dr. Campbell who practices at Dr. Reed’s All Eyes in St. Joseph, Michigan is an excellent optometrist and an example of a “Bright Spot”. Dr. Campbell took the time to listen her patient, do the appropriate tests, arrive at the diagnosis and referred Samantha for the appropriate treatment…office-based optometric vision therapy. As a testimony to Samantha’s problem with CI here is her Story:
Helping more people find the help they need for Convergence Insufficiency (CI), and other vision conditions, is an ongoing vision advocacy mission for the VisionHelp Group. We welcome your helpful comments and suggestions.
Dan L. Fortenbacher, O.D., FCOVD