There is a risk of misdiagnosis since ADHD and certain vision problems share several symptoms. The symptoms of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and other similar developmental issues are more likely to be associated with struggles in the classroom, but vision problems can also cause them.

How common are undiagnosed vision problems?

According to the American Optometric Association school vision screenings miss 75% of vision problems and there are at least 5 million children in the US with vision problems significant enough to impact learning. Some experts estimate that as many as 1 out of every 5 children have undiagnosed vision problems. This is cause for major concern as a child who is having difficulty reading or seeing the board will also have trouble sitting still or focusing in the classroom.

What are the common symptoms of a vision problem and ADHD?

The following symptoms are common both in children with ADHD and those with vision problems:

  • Headaches
  • Acting out in class
  • Eye Strain
  • Difficulty Focusing
  • Fatigue
  • Short attention span
  • Covers one eye when reading
  • Refusing to do school work

Can a vision issue be misdiagnosed as ADHD?

It is common for vision problems to coexist with ADHD, but the two do not appear to be related. Some children with excellent vision have ADHD, while others have learning difficulties purely due to vision issues. Likewise, a child can have an ADHD diagnosis and a vision issue at the same time.

Children who suffer from convergence insufficiency may exhibit similar learning difficulties, leading to a false diagnosis of ADHD. This error is even more likely because ADHD is a more widely known disorder.

Can vision therapy help with ADHD/ADD?

With either a diagnosis of ADHD or a high functioning spectrum disorder, we find patients benefit from vision therapy because they have more confidence in what they're seeing and they are able to utilize the visual system more efficiently.

Vision therapy involves a series of exercises designed to improve and strengthen visual functions as well as retrain the brain to process visual input more accurately. The treatment is usually compared to physical therapy, but it improves vision and eye function.

Vision therapy can include exercises for eye teaming, focusing, convergence, hand-eye coordination, visual perception and visual tracking.

Most ADHD patients are dismissed as strong visually, thinking that they only require compensatory strategies, but this isn't the case. Their biggest problem is communication. Many of those who have difficulty communicating start to show behavioral issues. And behavioral issues tend to diminish more once the patient is understood and approached appropriately.

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