Link between vision and ADHD

More than 1 in 10 students today have a diagnosis of attention deficit disorder, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  And in my practice, it seems like that percentage is much, much higher.  

It has long been suspected that ADHD is related to visual problems.  When we see a patient who cannot use his eyes together as a team, it seems logical that he will not be able to attend to a task like reading for very long.  

And, once a patient completes vision therapy in my office, it is common for parents to notice an improvement in attention.  Does vision therapy "cure" ADHD?  Well, some research has just been published on this topic.  

An article in the Journal of Attention Disorders tells of a study of 44 patients.  These 44 patients happen to have a vision condition called Convergence Insufficiency.  Convergence insufficiency occurs when your eyes don't work together properly up close.  And, it's one of the most common conditions affecting poor readers.  They gave the patients a survey called the Connors 3 ADHD Index on attention problems prior to beginning vision therapy.  And, the survey was repeated after in-office vision therapy was complete.  In this study, there was a significant improvement in the attention of these patients.  But, not only that, their anxiety/depression symptoms also improved.

So, the research is pointing to a link between vision problems and ADHD.  And it seems to confirm what most of us in developmental optometry have seen in our own patients--that when the visual system works together efficiently, children have been attention and generally are happier and less anxious and stressed.

- Dr. Cheryl Davidson