Objective: To compare vision therapy/orthoptics, pencil push-ups, and placebo vision therapy/orthoptics as treatments for symptomatic convergence insufficiency in children 9 to 18 years of age.
Methods: In a randomized, multicenter clinical trial, 47 children 9 to 18 years of age with symptomatic convergence insufficiency were randomly assigned to receive 12 weeks of office-based vision therapy/orthoptics, office-based placebo vision therapy/orthoptics, or home-based pencil push-ups therapy.
Main outcome measures: The primary outcome measure was the symptom score on the Convergence Insufficiency Symptom Survey. Secondary outcome measures were the near point of convergence and positive fusional vergence at near.
Results: Symptoms, which were similar in all groups at baseline, were significantly reduced in the vision therapy/orthoptics group (mean symptom score decreased from 32.1 to 9.5) but not in the pencil push-ups (mean symptom score decreased from 29.3 to 25.9) or placebo vision therapy/orthoptics groups (mean symptom score decreased from 30.7 to 24.2). Only patients in the vision therapy/orthoptics group demonstrated both statistically and clinically significant changes in the clinical measures of near point of convergence (from 13.7 cm to 4.5 cm; P < .001) and positive fusional vergence at near (from 12.5 prism diopters to 31.8 prism diopters; P < .001).
Conclusions: In this pilot study, vision therapy/orthoptics was more effective than pencil push-ups or placebo vision therapy/orthoptics in reducing symptoms and improving signs of convergence insufficiency in children 9 to 18 years of age. Neither pencil push-ups nor placebo vision therapy/orthoptics was effective in improving either symptoms or signs associated with convergence insufficiency.