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Akron Children's Hospital to study convergence insufficiency in children

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AKRON, Ohio - Blurred vision, headaches, frequent loss of place and difficulty finishing assignments are just some of the more common symptoms associated with convergence insufficiency, a neuro-visual disorder that occurs when a person's eyes don't work together while they're concentrating on an object that's close by.

"This is a problem with the brain's inability to maintain the eyes in the same position that's needed for the time that's needed," said Dr. Richard Hertle with Akron Children's Hospital.

It's believed about five to seven percent of kids suffer from convergence insufficiency.  Akron Children's Hospital was recently chosen, along with eight other institutes, to study the disorder to determine if treating it through computer-based games and eye hand coordination tasks can improve a child's reading ability and attention.

"Of course, the human side of me, I want this to work and I want it to not hurt them and I want it to be inexpensive and work quickly, but that's not clinical science.  We go down these paths with all of this money and sometimes we find no results, or the results don't mean anything," said Dr. Hertle.

About 35 patients between the ages of  nine and 12, who have the disorder and also have attention and reading difficulties, will be entered into Akron's study.

"It turns out that kids who have trouble using their eyes to read, a significant percentage of those kids, also have trouble with attention and learning," said Dr. Hertle.  "So, not everyone who has convergence insufficiency is going to get in the study and not everyone who has reading or attention problems can get in the study. You have to have this unique combination of both of those."

Akron Children's Vision Center staff will soon undergo training for the trials.  Patients will be enrolled soon after training wraps up.  Once the treatment ends, follow-up consultations will be conducted six and 12 months later to see if there's a lasting impact.

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