Because they share common symptoms, it’s sometimes difficult to distinguish between ADHD and the vision problem known as convergence insufficiency. The two diagnoses often go hand in hand (or the conditions are misdiagnosed), so it’s important to receive a thorough examination by both a vision therapist and a psychiatrist to properly address you or your child’s symptoms.
Symptoms of Convergence Insufficiency and ADHD
Convergence insufficiency, which describes the eyes’ inability to work in unison to focus on an object in space, can make reading and writing especially difficult. When the eyes strain themselves to focus on what’s in front of them, you might experience double vision, nausea, headaches, irritability, difficulty concentrating, loss of place while reading, and difficulty with reading comprehension, all of which affect performance in the classroom or office.
ADHD symptoms in children and adults manifest similarly in everyday life. Individuals may find it difficult to engage in tasks requiring sustained mental effort and distract themselves from following through with important tasks
Diagnosing Schoolchildren and Adults
Functional vision problems lead some students to compensate in unhealthy ways. They may strain their eyes, easily become fatigued, or avoid tasks altogether—symptoms mimicking ADHD.
Unfortunately, schools don’t administer the kind of eye exams that account for functional vision problems like convergence insufficiency. While the Snellen chart analyzes an individual’s visual acuity, it fails to account for functional vision problems relating to eye teaming, movement skills, focusing abilities, and more.
Many children are improperly diagnosed with ADHD after getting in trouble for not staying on task one too many times. In reality, they may be living with a functional vision problem the school wasn’t able to identify. To ensure your child receives the appropriate diagnoses and treatment, get a second opinion from both a certified vision therapist and a doctor specializing in ADHD.
Adults should take the same approach. By visiting the appropriate doctors in each respective field of study, you’ll have a clearer picture of what you’re dealing with and how to alleviate symptoms. While vision problems do lead to a lot of unfair ADHD diagnoses, it’s very possible to be afflicted by both—genuine ADHD patients are three times as likely to have convergence insufficiency issues as the normal population.
Treating Convergence Insufficiency and ADHD
Whether or not you or your child has an ADHD diagnosis, developmental optometrists at OCVT can create treatment plans that alleviate symptoms of both convergence insufficiency and ADHD. Treatment plans focus on developing visual skills that support prolonged visual attention and incorporate specialized glasses, prisms, and exercises to reteach the eyes to team together. Customized vision therapy plans help you improve performance in a variety of everyday activities and live a more focused life.
Contact a Developmental Optometrist Today
If you or your child are living with ADHD but have never had a functional eye exam, contact OCVT today. You’ll receive a thorough eye exam that accounts for a wide range of visual functions often misdiagnosed in school or medical settings that don’t specialize in vision, with a complimentary consultation to determine if our vision therapy treatment plans may be right for you.