Convergence Insufficiency

Self portrait of Kristen squinting in the sun

After several months of unexplained eye pain and a gazillion eye exams, I finally got a diagnosis: Convergence Insufficiency. My eyes diverge a little and I get pain and headaches when I try to focus on a computer or anything close up. I must have looked up a million articles about “pain on reading” or “it hurts to read”. I’m pretty confident all those people are having binocular vision problems just like me.

I went to another optometrist to sign up for “vision therapy” to train my eyes to focus up close, and he prescribed me prism glasses. The prism glasses shift the images I see so that they line up correctly without forcing my eyes to do so much work. The pain I was experiencing was muscle pain from eyes trying really hard to line themselves up.

The glasses do the trick! It’s magical!

This is all really good news. I’m incredibly glad to have a diagnosis and solution for my problem, because let me tell you, “avoid computers” was bumming me out, big time. I thought my days of computering were over. I had just started writing a novel and it killed me to not be able to work on it.

The lesson I learned is: Doctors grasp at answers and are often ignorant outside of their specialty. A headache specialist will assume you have headaches.

Still, someone should have done a binocular workup. My problem was easily diagnosed with a short, non-invasive, inexpensive test. I had had thousands of dollars worth of tests, including a CT scan and a neuro-opthalmology exam, before anyone thought to do the binocular test. I’m a little peeved at that, but, there’s no point in hanging onto irritation. I’m grateful for good health insurance. Onward and upward, with a life filled with reading.

In conclusion: Get your eyes examined yearly. Get a binocular workup if you have mysterious unexplained eye strain. If you work on a computer, follow the 20–20–20 rule: Look away, every minutes or so, at something in the distance, for about 20 seconds. I am going to get software to remind me to do this. Don’t forget to blink!

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