How Are ADHD and Vision Problems Related?

People with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder tend to experience a similar set of vision problems. The shared vision problems, in this case, include convergence insufficiency, oculomotor dysfunction, astigmatism, and other refractive errors. These issues make it hard for their eyes to align properly when focusing on nearby objects.

Yet, these visual conditions are not listed as symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

What Is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?

It is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects impulse control and attention. It results in symptoms such as:

  • Impulse behavior like indulging in needless risks.

  • Organizational difficulties like forgetting to do chores or homework.

  • Difficulty concentrating. The challenge here is especially true for tasks that need prolonged attention.

  • Hyperactivity, such as being fidgety.

The condition can be hyperactive-impulsive which can cause this behavior more than the other symptoms. It can lead one to be inattentive, predominantly affecting their ability to focus. Patients with ADHD have a combination of both conditions.

Additionally, people with the disorder are more susceptible to specific health conditions which include dyslexia, depression, anxiety, and certain learning disabilities.

How ADHD Affects You

When diagnosing ADHD, eye doctors rarely include visual disturbances in their criteria. Studies show a link between ADHD and conditions affecting eye health. A 2016 survey concluded that more children with visual impairment experienced this condition compared to those without vision issues.

The condition has links to specific visual impairments such as:

  • Convergence Insufficiency – This causes the eyes to misalign when concentrating on nearby objects. An individual with this condition will often experience double or blurry vision.

  • Astigmatic Refractive Error – This occurs when the shape of the eye prevents light from focusing on the retina. An individual with this condition will experience blurry vision. According to experts, this condition is more common in children with ADHD.

  • Color Perception – In 2014, a small study involving 60 people found a link between the condition and color perception. Young people with ADHD are more likely to have difficulty perceiving colors in the blue range.

Misdiagnosis of ADHD Vs. Vision Problems

Often, adults rarely take inattentive or hyperactive behavior in children seriously, possibly equating it to age-appropriate behavior. Teachers and parents rarely think it could be due to vision deficits or eye health issues. They are unaware that poor visual skills can impact one's ability to pay attention, plan, read, and organize visual information. These two problems make completing schoolwork or paying attention in class challenging.

Treating Vision Problems and ADHD

When looking to help improve visual skills and subsequently, visual behavior, developmental optometrists oftentimes recommended performance lenses and vision therapy. It has been shown that vision therapy leads to fewer vision-related symptoms for children with ADHD and convergence insufficiency. According to a study, the participants reported being able to read easier after the treatment.

Once an optometrist treats any uncorrected vision problems such as astigmatism, vision therapy becomes easier. Writing, reading, and copying words from the board becomes much more manageable as well. Patients can pay more attention when they do not have put forth additional effort on a visual task which helps them maintain stamina to deal with the condition's symptoms.

For more on ADHD and vision problems, call Clarendon Vision Development Center at (630) 323-7300 to reach our office in Westmont, Illinois.

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