Can Vision Problems be Misdiagnosed as ADHD?

Published on
October 10, 2022

There is a risk of misdiagnosis since ADHD and certain vision problems share several symptoms. The symptoms of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and other similar developmental issues are more likely to be associated with struggles in the classroom, but vision problems can also cause them.


How common are undiagnosed vision problems?

According to the American Optometric Association school vision screenings miss 75% of vision problems and there are at least 5 million children in the US with vision problems significant enough to impact learning. Some experts estimate that as many as 1 out of every 5 children have undiagnosed vision problems. This is cause for major concern as a child who is having difficulty reading or seeing the board will also have trouble sitting still or focusing in the classroom. 

What are the common symptoms of a vision problem and ADHD?

The following symptoms are common both in children with ADHD and those with vision problems:

  • Headaches
  • Acting out in class
  • Eye Strain
  • Difficulty Focusing
  • Fatigue
  • Short attention span
  • Covers one eye when reading
  • Refusing to do school work 

Can a vision issue be misdiagnosed as ADHD?

It is common for vision problems to coexist with ADHD, but the two do not appear to be related. Some children with excellent vision have ADHD, while others have learning difficulties purely due to vision issues. Likewise, a child can have an ADHD diagnosis and a vision issue at the same time.

Children who suffer from convergence insufficiency may exhibit similar learning difficulties, leading to a false diagnosis of ADHD. This error is even more likely because ADHD is a more widely known disorder.

Can vision therapy help with ADHD/ADD?

With either a diagnosis of ADHD or a high functioning spectrum disorder, we find patients benefit from vision therapy because they have more confidence in what they're seeing and they are able to utilize the visual system more efficiently. 

Vision therapy involves a series of exercises designed to improve and strengthen visual functions as well as retrain the brain to process visual input more accurately. The treatment is usually compared to physical therapy, but it improves vision and eye function.

Vision therapy can include exercises for eye teaming, focusing, convergence, hand-eye coordination, visual perception and visual tracking.

Most ADHD patients are dismissed as strong visually, thinking that they only require compensatory strategies, but this isn't the case. Their biggest problem is communication. Many of those who have difficulty communicating start to show behavioral issues. And behavioral issues tend to diminish more once the patient is understood and approached appropriately.


Get a functional vision exam in Greater Long Beach

By having a functional vision exam, you can determine whether your child's ADHD symptoms are caused by an undiagnosed vision problem. Call (562) 925-6591 to schedule a functional vision assessment at Amplify EyeCare of Greater Long Beach.


I haven't actually used the optometrist side, so my review is limited to the vision therapy offered.  This office was recommended by my occupational therapist for the treatment of my double vision following a stroke.

Claire A.

Love this location. I had a brain injury accident from day one one. All the team make you feel you still important and hope in the horizon after when the medical system fell you miserably. Dr. Ikeda very professional and very understanding about your issue. Two tombs up.

Jim K.

My husband and I were immediately impressed with Dr Ikeda. I was hit by a car while cycling which caused broken bones and three brain injuries. The brain injuries caused double vision. Dr. Ikeda examined my eyes and got me started on vision therapy with his occupational therapist who specializes in vision therapy.  She (Chris) is absolutely great.  I am impressed with the array of tools used to help recover my binocular vision.  I am doing things I never thought were possible (balance boards etc).  Chris pushes me and keeps me motivated. I really enjoy my sessions with her.  The office staff is always friendly and they have a wonderful appointment reminder tool that makes it easy to keep my calendar up to date. I am happy the rehab center at Little Co. of Mary recommended them!!

Teresa S.

The Vision Therapy is handled in a separate office through a different door from the shared waiting room. Chris, the vision therapist, has a wide and varied assortment of tools, equipment and resources to best evaluate and treat most vision issues. After just a few visits, my double vision became easier to control, using exercises developed during the therapy process. It was time well-spent.

Joe M.

I have been coming here since I can remember. I love it here. The staff is so amazing and nice. They explain everything they gonna do and never make you feel rushed. Dr. Ikeda has always been my doctor and I would never want another one. He is the doctor for my whole family and is always asking how everyone is doing. I am also so crazy about picking out my frames and have to try so many and each person who helps me take the time and lets me try them all on. I would never want to go anywhere else! I definitely would recommend this office to anyone looking for a great eye doctor.

Kayla W.

This is not for the eye exam but for the frames selection portion. I brought my prescription from Kaiser here with my VSP insurance. The reception staff was very polite and professional.  Manny helped me to pick out frames and explain my coverage.  Very helpful and patient not like the individual at the other place I rated here on Yelp.  I was running late and he still helped me and was not bothered at all.  I am so glad I came here ..........very pleased.

Very professional staff and pleasant.

Daniel G.
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