Convergence Insufficiency

Effects of convergence insufficiency on literacy tasks and behavioural regulation

What is convergence insufficiency?

Convergence is a natural process that occurs when our eyes move inward to focus on an object. Effortless convergence allows the different images seen by each eye to merge into one. In our daily lives, we are expected to be able to sustain eye convergence effortlessly for long periods of time at near distances (i.e. distance between your eyes and laptop / worksheet / handphone).

However, if the convergence ability is weak (or ‘insufficient’), it will result in visual symptoms like eye strain, blurriness, teary eyes, headaches and fatigue. This is because both eyes struggle to maintain precise coordination to fuse the images together. These symptoms affect their performance in school or at work. 

How does it affect literacy and writing tasks?

In some cases, the eyes ‘give up’ and momentarily lose the ability to fuse both images into one. Symptoms such as double vision or moving text will manifest during reading.

Other visual symptoms that may manifest during literacy and writing tasks include:

  • Eye strain, headaches, painful eyes
  • Complains of near blur
  • Complains of moving text or double vision
  • Difficulty concentrating or focusing
  • Difficulty writing legibly and accurately
  • Poor reading and writing stamina
  • Difficulty focusing on the paper or aligning their writing with the lines
  • Lose place or skip lines, which can lead to reduced reading speed and comprehension 
  • Difficulty focusing on the paper or aligning their writing with the lines
  • Difficulty tracking words across the page, leading to errors in word recognition and comprehension

How does it affect behaviour and emotional regulation?

When a student experiences difficulties in close-up tasks due to convergence insufficiency, they are likely to feel frustrated. Students with this disorder may find it challenging to complete close-up tasks, such as reading and writing, leading to a sense of frustration and anxiety. They may become easily overwhelmed and exhibit signs of irritability, such as snapping at others or engaging in negative self-talk. They may worry about their academic performance and fear that they will be unable to complete tasks to the best of their ability. This anxiety can lead to further disengagement from learning and decreased academic achievement.

Convergence insufficiency can also impact a student’s ability to concentrate and pay attention during near visual tasks. When students experience difficulty focusing on near objects, they may find it challenging to concentrate on their work, leading to distractions and decreased productivity. A learning related vision screening/functional vision assessment should be conducted before considering the child for a Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or  Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) diagnosis.