Three behaviours are generally associated with a diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). However, did you know that these same three behaviours are very commonly the results of a vision problem?

Impulsivity. Hyperactivity. Distractibility.

Research tells us children with a vision problem like convergence insufficiency (CI) are a whopping three times more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than children without CI. In fact, 15 of the 18 symptoms of ADHD listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders are also symptoms of a functional vision problem.

Functional vision problems generally branch out of three main areas: eye tracking, eye teaming, and eye focusing. These skills are outlined below alongside the difficulties that they are associated with. Notice the overlap with ADHD symptoms.

  • Poor eye-tracking skills relate to inefficiency in the ability of the eyes to fixate track and jump from object to object. This includes jumping the eyes from word to word on the page when reading. Poor eye-tracking skills lead to decreased fluency when reading, frequent loss of place, skipping lines when reading and writing, increased distractibility when reading, and failure to attend to finer details when reading and writing.
  • Poor eye teaming skills relate to the inability to use the two eyes together well as a coordinated team. Depth perception, avoidance of close work tasks, difficulty completing work in class, difficulty sitting still and maintaining a steady posture, and viewing distances often result from poor eye teaming skills.
  • Poor eye-focusing skills make it difficult for the child to maintain clear vision at varying distances. It makes learning, reading, writing, and sports more difficult and can lead to reduced comprehension levels along with avoidance of concentrated tasks.

So if your child has problems paying close attention to details, avoids near-work tasks requiring mental effort (like homework), and has difficulty completing school work and following instructions, don’t risk a misdiagnosis. A comprehensive vision skills assessment with one of our behavioural optometrists will only take you an hour and could end up being the difference between a label and a cure. Don’t let your child become another statistic.

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions about the connection between vision and learning difficulties.

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