Link Between Vision Problems and ADHD

shutterstock_125779586Watching for Signs

When my five-year-old daughter started learning to read this year, she couldn’t sit still. After a few weeks of this behavior, I wondered if she might have some sort of learning disorder, possibly ADHD. She’d fidget, squirm and look everywhere but at the book.

Fortunately, I knew my first stop should be the optometrist. Before taking any other actions or jumping to conclusions, I decided to get her eyes checked. The first thing the optometrist asked was, “Does she have a hard time sitting still when she reads?” I answered,  “Yes!”

There might be some kind of a connection between vision issues and a child’s inability to sit still.

In my daughter’s case, we solved the problem with a new pair of reading glasses. Yet, many children may eventually be diagnosed with ADHD instead of correcting an existing vision problem.

Convergence Insufficiency

Many children deal with something called convergence insufficiency. Convergence insufficiency is a vision issue that occurs when the eyes don’t work together while focusing on a nearby object. A study from the Children’s Eye Center, University of San Diego found that children with convergence insufficiency are 3x as likely to be diagnosed with ADHD. Unfortunately, the scientists haven’t figured out whether there is a causal link between the two disorders.

There was another related study done by researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The study found that children experiencing vision impairment (not correctable with eyeglasses like color-blindness or lazy eye) were 2x as likely to be diagnosed with ADHD. The study involved 75,000 children, researchers found that children with vision impairment should be monitored for signs of ADHD. Parents addressing vision impairment and attention problems more quickly and effectively can help solve these issues early on.

Prevention & Monitoring

While we wait for conclusive evidence from more studies like these, there is something you can do if you think your child may be developing attention problems – Get their eyes examined! Take your child to a licensed optometrist and ophthalmologist for a comprehensive eye examination before school. This exam can give them the best chance at learning success.

Vision screenings by the school nurse are certainly a helpful tool. Don’t rely on the screening to determine whether your child should be taken to an optometrist. A screening only catches a few potential vision issues. Call your closest America’s Best to schedule your child’s exam as school gets underway!