If your child has been diagnosed with ADHD, you may want to have their vision checked before committing to medication alone to improve their symptoms. In fact, children are frequently misdiagnosed by their doctor, simply because the symptoms of ADHD are so similar to those of some vison disorders. Parents should do their research and make sure they have all the facts and necessary testing completed before deciding on the appropriate treatment for their child.
Why Vision Problems get Misdiagnosed as ADHD
ADHD is a relatively common disorder for kids to suffer from, so when a child presents with the typical symptoms, their doctor may be quick to diagnose it as the cause. However, a number of vision disorders have many of the same symptoms as ADHD. This can result in a child being prescribed medication as a cure, when what they really need is vision correction. If a child has any of the following symptoms, it could be due to ADHD or a vision problem (or both), which is why a correct diagnosis can be tricky:
- Struggles to pay attention or concentrate in class
- Difficulty with reading or writing
- Tests poorly, even when they know the material
- Makes careless mistakes
- Starts assignments but has trouble completing them
- Poor performance in sports
- Has trouble organizing tasks
Due to the similarities in symptoms, if your child is suspected of having ADHD, it is wise to also get them tested for a vision disorder.
Vision Disorders That Can Mimic ADHD Symptoms
When a child has problems with their functional vision, certain visual skills become lacking, which results in symptoms like those of ADHD.
Functional vision is how your complete visual system, including your eyes, brain and the visual pathways between them, work together to make sense of the world around you, and help you understand and interact with your surroundings. It allows you to see objects with depth and dimension (like a ball, for example), and understand how to interact with it (catch it).
Problems with functional vision means the eyes and brain do not work together properly and can result in difficulty with focusing, depth perception, tracking skills, reading comprehension, hand-eye coordination and more. The symptoms of these vision issues, such as loss of concentration, not paying attention in class, rushing through work with careless mistakes, poor sports performance, etc., are often confused with those of ADHD. Therefore, getting your child evaluated for functional vision disorders can help you determine the best course of treatment.
Vision Therapy as Treatment
Vision therapy can be a very effective form of treatment for functional vision disorders. However, it can also be the right choice as an additional form of treatment for kids who have ADHD, as many of these children also have vision issues that require treatment.
Vision therapy is like physical therapy for the visual system. Through a series of therapeutic eye exercises and activities, a vision therapy program can retrain the eyes and brain to function together properly and restore proper visual skills. Our specially-trained vision therapy providers tailor our programs to each individual, based on the visual issues that have been diagnosed. The 30-40 minute sessions take place right in our office, with some at-home practice often recommended. Vision therapy is remarkably successful in treating functional vision problems and can often even eliminate the need for ADHD medications and the side effects that go with it.
Contact our office at 630-862-2020 to learn more about the similarities between ADHD and vision disorders, and to have the proper testing completed, so you can be confident in your treatment decisions.
Additional information can be referenced here and here
As a parent, protecting your child is one of your most important jobs. From using seatbelts in the car to teaching them about stranger danger, your child’s safety and security is always at the top of your mind. Parents may not think of their child’s vision as something that needs protecting, but healthy vision is something they need to succeed throughout their entire life! Follow these helpful tips to provide the best possible chance of a lifetime of healthy vision for your child.
Your child’s vision begins developing in the womb, so you can give them an advantage starting during your pregnancy:
- Eat yellow, orange and red fruits and vegetable which are high in beta carotene, which converts into vitamin A and can help in the healthy development of your baby’s eyes
- Increase your lutein and zeaxanthin levels, which are important for your baby’s developing retina and brain, by eating green, leafy vegetables, corn or brightly colored fruits and vegetables
- Don’t smoke, as smoking during pregnancy has been associated with an increase in vision problems in children later on
One of the best places to really make a difference in your child’s vision is at home! Starting from a young age, and continuing as they grow, try the following strategies:
- Provide visually-stimulating toys and mobiles for your baby to help encourage visual development
- Encourage puzzles, building blocks, arts and crafts as they get older to help develop hand-eye coordination skills
- Make sure sharp objects and dangerous chemicals are out of reach
- Feed them a healthy, well-rounded diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean meat, poultry and fish which provide important vitamins and minerals that promote overall eye health
- Make sure they wear sunglasses with 100% UV protection whenever they are outside, to protect their eyes from harmful UV rays that can damage their eyes and increase the risk of cataracts or macular degeneration later on
You can’t always be with your child, but you can encourage healthy practices for protecting their vision while they are away. When they are in school:
- Have them use a blue light filter on digital devices they use in the classroom or for remote learning
- Remind your child to try to look away from their screen every 20 minutes if possible, to avoid eye strain and give their eyes a needed break
- Always make sure they wear protective eyewear, such as goggles, eye guards or full face guards when participating in sports
For a lifetime of eye health
Protecting your child’s vision is not always based on one specific place. There are things you can do throughout their life to ensure they have the healthiest possible vision:
- Take them for regular eye exams starting at age 6 months, 3 years, before kindergarten and then yearly after age 5
- Take corrective action as soon as possible after receiving a diagnosis of any vision condition, including eye glasses or more advanced vision therapy treatments
- Encourage good hygiene habits, including proper hand washing and keeping their hands away from their eyes, to avoid eye infection or scratches.
- Pay attention to any warning signs of a problem with your child’s vision, including increased squinting, eye rubbing, light sensitivity, poor hand-eye coordination or eyes that turn in the wrong direction
At Family Vision Development Center, we are committed to providing the best possible eye care to your whole family, at all stages of your child’s development. Our comprehensive vision exams allow us to quickly detect any vision issues and develop the best treatment plan, such as glasses, contacts or an effective vision therapy program. Contact our Aurora office at 630-862-2020 to get more information or to schedule your appointment!