Vision and ADD/ADHD

Attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are frequently diagnosed conditions among school age children, now more than ever. In fact, it is one of the most common behavioral disorders diagnosed in children living in the U.S.

It is estimated that 3%-5% of school age children have ADHD, or about 3 1/2 million American children. Boys outnumber girls 3 to 1 and are more often diagnosed with ADHD. Since girls tend not to have the hyperactivity component, it is suspected that girls are under identified.

Did you know that almost all of the symptoms associated with both ADD and ADHD are also symptoms found in vision related learning problems? If these symptoms are due to vision, the vision problem can be fixed and the symptoms will stop.

General habits that may be observed in children with vision problems, but can also be ADD/ADHD symptoms include:

  • Careless mistakes in homework and class work
  • Poor ability to sustain attention and stay on task
  • Poor listening skills
  • Difficulty following directions
  • Loses and misplaces things often
  • Talks excessively and interrupts others
  • Fidgety
  • Difficult time organizing, prioritizing work and activities
  • Shifts from one activity to another
  • Difficulty playing quietly

Symptoms of ADHD and Learning-Related Visual Problems are quite similar! Take a look at the following charts:


Remember, vision is important, but it can be only ONE part of a bigger problem. It is possible to have ADD or ADHD, as well as a vision problem. Fixing the vision problem may not be all that is needed to help your child. This is why a multidisciplinary approach is ideal!

Who diagnoses ADD/ADHD?

Any physician is actually able to diagnose these disorders. However, many general practitioners do not take the time to make sure their patient fits all the criteria for diagnosis, before they determine it is the only cause of the symptoms. Often their first treatment is to prescribe medication.

Unfortunately, many children are being diagnosed hastily by primary care physicians, pediatricians, etc. based on parent or teacher recommendations. This often leads to medication prescriptions to handle the problem. It is our opinion that a person that specializes in behavioral conditions, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist, will be able to test and observe a child more thoroughly to diagnose individuals with ADD/ADHD and decide if medication is absolutely necessary. They are also trained to rule out other possible behavioral issues. This is not meant to undermine the family doctors and pediatricians. It is meant to illustrate that their specialists specifically trained in behavioral problems. If you were having a baby, would you want your family physician taking care of you, or would you want to go to an obstetrician that is specially trained to deliver babies? Your family physician may know how to deliver a baby, but the obstetrician does it all the time and will be more trained to handle problems along the way. The same goes for a diagnosis of a behavioral problem that will be there for the rest of a child's life.

Careful diagnosis of ADD/ADHD is important!

To make a careful diagnosis of ADD/ADHD, it is important to rule out all other explanations for the symptoms manifesting, including health reasons, allergies, other behavioral problems such as depression, hearing problems and vision problems. This means that it is wise to see different professionals that specialize in the mentioned areas, along with seeing a psychologist. This can get expensive, but if you want to really know what your child is struggling with, it may be worth the cost to find the most appropriate treatment(s) for your child.