Can Glasses or Eye Patches Treat Convergence Insufficiency?

Published July 27, 2020

If you have been diagnosed with convergence insufficiency (CI), or are experiencing symptoms of CI, you may be wondering how CI is treated.  Any type of vision condition can be concerning, especially when it impacts your ability to perform to your utmost potential.

This article will explain the most effective treatments for CI, and help you to understand why they are most effective.

Are glasses an effective CI treatment?

Optical lenses that are typically prescribed for correcting a refractive error, are not an effective method when it comes to treating CI.

This is due to the fact that these lenses work to improve your clarity of vision, and CI is not an eyesight problem.

Convergence insufficiency is a condition that occurs when the eyes do not work together properly, and cannot turn inwards at the same time for clear, single vision of a nearby object.

What about prism lenses?

Prism lenses work by bending light so that the near object appears to be in a different location than where it is truly located. Therefore, eyeglasses with prism lenses may be prescribed to alleviate double or blurred vision. However, since prism lenses cannot correct the outward deviation of the eye, they do not treat the underlying problem.

Is eye patching an effective CI treatment? 

While patching was commonly recommended in the past, it is no longer used in the treatment of CI. 

Patching was thought to be effective in treating CI as it causes the deviated eye to work harder to converge, while the second eye is covered. However, as soon as both eyes are uncovered, the eye turn resurfaces.

Moreover, patching affects binocular vision, and therefore can cause other vision difficulties such as poor depth perception— which can impact your performance of most daily activities.

Patching simply does not correct the underlying cause of the outward deviation and the reduced eye teaming ability. Convergence insufficiency will be a long term problem, if the underlying cause is not treated.

That brings us to vision therapy.

How does vision therapy treat CI?

Vision therapy is the number one proven method for CI treatment.

Vision therapy focuses on strengthening the eye-brain connections, while training the eyes to converge, and eventually to easily shift between convergence and divergence.

According to a study conducted by the Convergence Insufficiency Treatment Trial group, office-based vision therapy with home reinforcement is the most effective method for strengthening the convergence skill. The study found that following a home-based computer vision therapy program and performing pencil push ups, are just not enough to treat the condition.

According to the study, children who received in-office vision therapy and performed reinforcement exercises at home, showed significant improvement within 12 weeks of the program.

In sum, vision therapy is the most effective treatment method for CI, as it directly treats the underlying issue, the inability to converge. With vision therapy, the eye is trained to turn inward when looking at near objects, correcting the neu-muscular problem that prevents the eyes from rotating inward.

If you are experiencing symptoms of CI, and don’t know what to do next, the first step is to schedule an eye exam for a comprehensive evaluation of your functional vision, and to determine if convergence insufficiency is affecting your clear and comfortable vision.

With an accurate assessment of your visual function, your eye doctor will be able to prescribe an effective vision therapy program to improve your vision and increase your enjoyment of many activities.