Can Your Child's Vision Affect an ADHD Diagnosis Image

Can Your Child’s Vision Affect an ADHD Diagnosis?

Can Your Child's Vision Affect an ADHD Diagnosis Image

It’s no secret that attention concerns in children are more prevalent than ever. According to a recent Center for Disease Control and Prevention Report, 9.8 percent of American children have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). That number has increased by 43 percent since 2003. If you are a parent and are concerned about these trends, you aren’t alone!

If you are noticing attention issues in your kid, it may be tempting to rush them to a behavioral therapist. But, you may be happy to know that there is one other possible cause for attention issues that you could get checked first: vision. A new study agrees, showing that over one million of those kids might have been misdiagnosed!

Vision Issues or ADHD?

Children often don’t know how to fully describe their feelings, both physical and emotional. Understandably, this makes diagnosing important concerns difficult. As a case in point, one concerned mom was wondering why her daughter was having so much trouble with her schoolwork since she loved reading so much. At an initial visit to a doctor, the daughter told them that she couldn’t focus on all the questions on the page. They immediately assumed that she had an ADHD problem.

However, fearful of needlessly putting her daughter on medications, she did some research on her own which eventually led her to an optometrist. The eye doctor found that the problem was not an attention deficit problem at all. It was a vision problem!

Through a series of eye tests, the optometrist found that the girl’s eyes did not work well together; the words moved and the page was blurry. And, here’s the best part. Instead of putting a band-aid on the problem (in this case, prescribing eyeglasses), the girl’s mother and doctor decided to fix the problem itself with vision training. Vision training consists of eye exercises and therapy to teach them to work together. It can be used for a variety of eye conditions and is often successful.

After eight months of training, the young girl was able to focus and learn as well as any of her peers in school! No medications or prescriptions were necessary, just a proven plan to strengthen her vision.

Overlapping Symptoms for ADHD

If this family’s story resonates with you, you may also want to see if your child’s vision is playing into their attention problems. Of course, it could very well be that they have ADHD. But, they could also have a slew of other health conditions that affect their behavior. Here are some of the symptoms associated with ADHD that also correspond with vision problems.

  • Frustration and anger when struggling with school tasks
  • Quick to give up and lose focus
  • Not participating in reading exercises in class
  • Not completing homework
  • Seemingly ignoring audible cues
  • Making careless mistakes in schoolwork
  • Rushing through school tasks
  • Poor physical activity and sports performance

So, how Do You Decipher Between the Two?

Each of those symptoms could mean that your child is experiencing ADHD or vision problems. Often, when a child has difficulty seeing, they can’t complete schoolwork. They may get frustrated with their inability to read properly and give up. This leads to them not wanting to participate in class or do their homework. They may be masking their struggles with hyperactive behavior associated with ADHD. Additionally, when children with vision issues do try to concentrate on what they’re seeing, all their senses are devoted to focusing their vision. This may make it more difficult for children to respond to classroom cues appropriately.

You may also notice similar behavior at home. Perhaps they rush through tasks at home because they know that focusing for too long will hurt their eyes. It’s also important to note that all physical activities are impacted when vision is impaired. If your child is struggling to play sports or even just to play outside with friends, it could be a sign of vision issues.

Remember, a child doesn’t know any different from their current vision. If this is how they’ve always seen, how can they tell something is wrong? They likely assume everyone is seeing like them, but for some reason, they can’t perform to their peer’s abilities. This is how vision problems can affect a child’s confidence and self-esteem. They begin to question their own intelligence and abilities. Children need to see professionals who are trained to help them name their symptoms.

As a parent, it’s important to get to the root of the issue before vision problems set your child back too much. This could be the difference between succeeding in academics and failing grades. Correct their vision and all their behavioral problems could go away.

The Real Problem

Vision experts believe that 60 percent of kids who are labeled as ‘problem learners’ are suffering from vision problems rather than some form of Attention Deficit Disorder. That incredibly high number makes you think of all of the adults you may know who also seem to have trouble concentrating. Luckily, adults have developed enough to compare their experiences to the experiences of others. If you notice it becoming gradually harder to see the board during meetings or read at home, you’ll seek help. Teens will also often tell you there’s a problem. Children don’t know they need help and will suffer silently.

Unfortunately, too many children are put on medication to address ADHD instead of addressing their vision. ADHD medication can cause fatigue, dizziness, moodiness, irritability, and sleep problems. It seems that the symptoms of ADHD medication mimic some of the symptoms of ADHD itself. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a simple, permanent solution that didn’t involve medication to help with concentration?

There Is a Solution

It starts by getting your child’s vision examined by an ophthalmologist. Your child’s eye doctor will test their vision in a variety of ways, and then provide an accurate diagnosis. Perhaps they have the beginning stages of myopia. Or, perhaps their vision is perfect, and an ADHD diagnosis may be correct. Without testing their vision, you won’t know.

You owe it to your child to help them find out the true cause of their behavior. Once you have a diagnosis, you can begin treating it naturally or with the help of visual aids. As mentioned above, vision therapy is often very useful for correcting eye disorders. You can also try eye exercises at home and work on giving them a nutrient-rich diet. Encourage them to play outside often and limit the time they spend on electronic devices. Healthy, lifelong vision starts in childhood.

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Join or Start the Discussion

  1. Your article is very clear and correctly points out that ADHD is often misdiagnosed. Can you also mention that the correct eye diagnosis is more likely if you see a doctor who specializes in vision therapy? I saw an opthomologist most of my life and didn’t get diagnosed until I was almost 50. Two of my children were also not diagnosed until I took them to this type of vision specialist. You can search for such a doctor at the COVD (College of Optometrists in Vision Development) website: Thanks for all you do to promote improved vision! For reference: I detail my experiences on my website

  2. Avatar for Tyler Sorensen Sandra says:

    This is exactly my son’s problem, last year I asked the school to do the tests because the poor grades and lack of motivation my son shown at age 17, and he was diagnosed with ADHD but my son has Amblyopia and is almost legally blind in one eye, also that could be the factor, they did not link one to another.

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About the Author

Avatar for Tyler Sorensen

Tyler Sorensen is the President and CEO of Rebuild Your Vision. Formerly, Tyler studied Aeronautics (just like his brother) with the dream of becoming an airline pilot, however, after 9/11 his career path changed. After graduating top of his class with a Bachelor of Science in Informational Technologies and Administrative Management, he joined Rebuild Your Vision in 2002. With the guidance of many eye care professionals, including Behavioral Optometrists, Optometrists (O.D.), and Ophthalmologists (Eye M.D.), Tyler has spent nearly two decades studying the inner workings of the eye and conducting research.


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