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My Story of Exophoria
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My Story of Exophoria

I have experienced a feeling of lightheaded-ness and spacey-ness for the past 4-5 years, coupled with fatigue after reading or watching a screen. It started in college, during a semester when I was under alot of stress.  I saw a few doctors who suggested various potential diagnoses. When I went to have my eyes checked, the optometrist said I have a small astigmatism in my right eye and perscribed glasses. These turned out not to help very much, and my condition continued.

I was perscribed antidepressants for anxiety, which was the result inadequate in school because of this condition. Often I feel like I can't read/retain new information as well, and feel mentally limited. Since graduating, I have more or less just put up with these symptoms, but now that I'm 25, I'm more serious about trying to solve this problem once and for all.

A few days ago, I went to see an ophthamologist. He diagnosed me with exophoria in near, saying that it really explains all my symptoms (!!!). The only advice he really gave me though was that I should read things from a further distance. He also mentioned that I could do exercises (i.e. pencil pushups) every so often to strengthen the muscles. I should have asked more questions, but having someone tell me that I definitely have a medical problem that could explain all my symptoms made me extremely happy and I wasn't as thorough as I should have been.

From searching the eye care forums here, I have learned a little bit more about available treatments (surgery, software for vision therapy) and how each's effectiveness if viewed. Supposedly, evidence on the effectiveness of vision therapy is mixed, except that it seems to work well for exophoria I have the following questions. Any help/experience you could chare would be very appreciated. I very much want to get my life back on track and stop feeling limited by these feelings.  

Questions:

1. Prevention: Is there anything else I should be doing except for increasing reading distance, and the standard good reading practices (adequate light, etc)? I did move my monitor back. How often does this get worse over time?

2. Vision Therapy: How much should I practice vision therapy exercises? For how long and how often? How long should I expect it to take before noticing results?

3. Recovery: How often do adults who recieve this diagnosis and experience exophoria symptoms attain some sort of recovery?

4. Surgery: This is something I would clearly discuss with a doctor, but how often do symptomatic suffers of exophoria get surgery? What kinds of risks are involved and what level of success is typically experienced. The symptoms I have obviously bother me, and I would consider this option to rid myself of them if therapy/prevention did not work.

Thank you so much for reading this testimonry and offering any opinions or answers you might have to any of the above questions! I will continue to do all I can to return to normal.
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5 Comments Post a Comment
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233488_tn?1310696703
Your problem is called "convergence insuffeciency"  use the search feature and archives to read about. Also read section on emedicine and WebMD.  I suggest you see an strabismus-pediatric ophthalmologist. Either ask the Eye MD you saw for a referral or go to www.aao and find one near you.

Convergence exercises (pencil pushups or prism vergences) have been shown to be helpful but like most exercises most people stop doing them.

Base in reading & computer glasses are relatively inexpensive and work for most people.  Not likely that surgery is indicated.

See the strabismus Eye MD
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Avatar_m_tn
Shame I didn't see this post until now, I'm guessing any response might be to late... I have had this same condition since I was about 10, worsening with age. I am now 29 and about 3 years ago I occasionally ended  up with eye fatigue lasting for days, basically leaving me unable to use my eyes until they recovered.

I finally had my eyes checked by a proper optician that said I had exophoria and sent me to an eye specialist. There I was given options of botox injections to my outer eye muscles, surgery to weaken muscles or exercises. Seeing as  I was still "young" the best option was exercises. While doing these exercises for 3 months my eyes were obviously continuously strained, but once my eye muscles gained maximum strength I did the exercises with ease, my pains lessened and I feel better overall, luckely my muscles haven't weakened yet and I haven't had to do any excises since!

The pains will never fully be cured and your muscles will deteriorate over time. In your 50s or whenever the exercises aren't sufficient anymore, the only really option will probably be surgery if prism glasses don't do the job, they only worked for me when I had a milder condition.

I could say if prism glasses/lenses work, you are lucky but in reality this just makes your muscles even weaker and you will be heavily reliant on them once you go with that option.

Hope this is helpful to anyone!
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233488_tn?1310696703
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Avatar_m_tn
I hope someone will reply even though it's late. Just 2 weeks ago I was diagnosed with latent or controllable exophoria. Months before I was diagnosed with astigmatism and nearsightedness. I think the combination of these 3 problems is making it harder for me to work.

My major concerns are: lightheadedness, spacyness, difficulty in reading, headaches while reading, inattention sometimes.

I was given glasses with prism, but I still experience mild headaches and reading difficulties while wearing it.

The doctor recommended eye exercises.

Yet, are those eye exercises really effective? Do I have to do those exercises regularly for the rest of my life?

P.S. Glad to know there are people who are experiencing the same.  
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233488_tn?1310696703
astigmatism and myopia are refractive (glasses) problems and not related to exophoria.    Many people have asymptomatic exophoria (me included).  Most cases do not require treatment.

If you are doing "pencil push-ups) they can be helpful but yes you need to continue them indefinitely (just like arm muscle push ups).

Prism glasses are generally not recommended for myopic/astigmatism type glasses as your eye muscles will get lazy and you will not be able to go without them anymore. Expensive optometric exercises are generally not indicated or useful.

Prisms are helpful sometimes in glasses used only for near (reading/computer).

Suggest you see an Eye MD ophthalmologist that specializes in eye muscle problems (strabismus)

JCH MD

JCH MD
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