Are you someone who experiences eye strain or fatigue after reading for a long time? Do you find yourself holding books or other reading material closer to your face than what's comfortable? If so, you may have a convergence excess issue, a binocular vision disorder. In this blog post, we'll discuss what convergence excess is, its causes, and how it can be treated.

What is Convergence Excess?

Convergence excess is a condition that occurs when our eyes turn in too much when focusing on objects at close distances. As we mentioned earlier, convergence is a skill that allows our eyes to turn inward to focus on close-up objects, such as when reading a book or using a computer. However, when the muscles that control eye convergence become overstimulated, they can cause our eyes to converge too much, leading to eye strain, fatigue, and discomfort.

What is the difference between convergence excess and convergence insufficiency?

Convergence excess and convergence insufficiency are both eye conditions that affect the ability of the eyes to work together when focusing on near objects, but they are opposing conditions.

Convergence excess is a condition in which the eyes have an excessive amount of convergence, or inward turn, when focusing on near objects. This means that the eyes have to work harder to keep both eyes aligned and focused on the same object, which can cause symptoms such as eye strain, headaches, and double vision.

Conversely, convergence insufficiency is a condition in which the eyes have difficulty converging, or turning inward, when focusing on near objects. This can result in symptoms like eye strain, headaches, and challenges with reading or performing near tasks.

Symptoms of Convergence Excess

Some common symptoms of convergence excess include:

  • Eye strain or fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Seeing words move on a page
  • Feeling like you need to hold reading material closer than what's comfortable

Causes of Convergence Excess

There are several factors that can contribute to convergence excess, including:

  • Prolonged near work - Activities that require close-up vision, such as reading or using a computer, can overstimulate the eye muscles that control convergence.
  • Uncorrected refractive errors - Refractive errors, such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism, can also contribute to convergence excess.
  • Binocular vision disorders - Conditions that affect how our eyes work together, such as strabismus or amblyopia, can cause convergence excess.
  • Stress - Stress can cause muscle tension, including in the muscles that control eye movement, leading to convergence excess.
  • Developmental Delays - Convergence issues are more common among the neuro diverse and those with developmental delays.
  • Traumatic Head Injuries - Injuries such as traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and strokes as well as certain neurological conditions can cause convergence issues.

If you're experiencing symptoms of convergence excess, it's important to schedule an appointment with your functional optometrist. Your eye doctor can perform a comprehensive eye exam to determine the cause of your symptoms and recommend an appropriate treatment plan.

Treatment for Convergence Excess

Some common treatments for convergence excess include:

  • Vision therapy - Vision therapy is a type of physical therapy for the eyes that is designed to improve eye muscle strength, coordination, and flexibility. It typically involves a series of exercises and activities that are tailored to your specific eye condition and visual needs. Vision therapy can be performed in-office under the guidance of your optometrist or at-home with a program provided by your optometrist.
  • Prism lenses - Prism lenses are special lenses that bend light in a way that can help reduce the amount of eye convergence needed to see clearly. These lenses can be prescribed by your optometrist and are often used for people with convergence excess or other eye conditions that affect eye alignment.
  • Prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses - If you have an uncorrected refractive error, such as nearsightedness or farsightedness, we may recommend corrective lenses to help reduce convergence excess. These lenses work by adjusting the way light enters your eyes and can help improve your visual clarity and comfort when reading or doing close work.
  • Lifestyle changes - Making lifestyle changes can also be helpful in managing convergence excess. Some tips include taking frequent breaks when reading or using a computer, practicing good posture when sitting at a desk or table, adjusting the lighting in your workspace to reduce glare, and employing relaxation techniques to alleviate stress and tension in your eyes and body.

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