Does My Child Have Attention Deficit, or Could It Be a Vision Problem?

Studies have found that some vision issues are more common in children who have ADD/ADHD.  Moreover, some vision disorders may mimic the symptoms of ADD/ADHD, which may lead to misdiagnosis. Some children are on ADD/ADHD drugs when all they have is a vision problem that can be corrected and improve their visual function and visual attention.


ADD/ADHD and vision impairment affect a child’s ability to learn because they impact attention. Vision impairment means a child’s attention is affected in school because they cannot see what the teacher is writing. It may be interpreted as ADD/ADHD.


So, what is ADD/ADHD, and how does it affect vision?



ADD/ADHD are two similar disorders—attention deficit disorder and attention deficit hyperactive disorder. Both have similar symptoms, differing only slightly. They are neurodevelopmental conditions that affect impulse control and attention. They cause the following symptoms:


  • Hyperactivity often characterized by the inability to stay still. Excessive movement or excessive language expression

  • Impulsive habits and behaviors that lead to unnecessary risks

  • Inability to concentrate for long periods or on one thing for some time

  • Difficulty with organization, so a child may not remember to do their chores or homework


ADHD can be of two main types: predominantly hyperactive-impulsive or inattentive. The first form makes a person more prone to hyperactive and impulsive behaviors. The second means their ability to focus is more impacted by the condition. Some people have both forms of the condition. 


How Does ADD/ADHD Affect Vision?

As mentioned earlier, vision conditions are not symptoms of ADD/ADHD, but specific vision conditions are more common in patients with ADD/ADHD. According to research, the following conditions are more likely to occur in people with ADD/ADHD.




Refractive error is an issue that deforms the eye, so light does not focus correctly when entering the eye. One of the most common symptoms of refractive errors is blurry vision. Astigmatism is a refractive error where the surface of the cornea is irregular. It is prevalent in children with ADD/ADHD.


Convergence Insufficiency


This is an eye condition where the eyes have difficulty maintaining alignment when viewing near targets, like reading. When a child attempts to focus on a near object, their eyes fail to align, leading to double or blurry vision and their words may move or jump on the page. According to a well-known study from 2014, it is estimated that about 30% of children with ADD/ADHD also have convergence insufficiency.


What Treatments Are Available?

Doctors have noticed that once a patient with ADD/ADHD had improved their vision, their ADD/ADHD symptoms were also reduced. They were more likely to focus for more extended periods and complete tasks. Some visual treatments that may help with ADD/ADHD are:


  • Vision Therapy

  • Visual Aids, Glasses or Contact Lenses

  • Base-in Prism Glasses


Vision Therapy is considered the Gold Standard for the treatment of convergence insufficiency, the most common eye condition associated with attention problems in children.


For more on ADD/ADHD and vision problems, contact Rieger Eyecare Group ​​​​​at our office in Normal, Illinois. Call (309) 320-2020​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ to book an appointment today

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