Convergence Insufficiency and ADHD

Most people are familiar with ADHD, but fewer with convergence insufficiency. What is the connection? While it is a fact that learning-related vision problems are not learning disabilities, they can be comorbid with each other, and some are more commonly found together.

 

Convergence Insufficiency and ADHD in Bellflower

Amplify Eyecare of Greater Long Beach

What is Convergence Insufficiency?

Convergence insufficiency is when the eyes have trouble working together to focus on a near object. People who suffer from convergence insufficiency will often have difficulty focusing and reading for extended periods due to the strain on their eyes. Convergence insufficiency is separate from simple 20/20 vision, and, in fact, one can both have 20/20 vision and convergence insufficiency. 

Symptoms

Someone suffering from convergence insufficiency, in addition to having trouble generally concentrating on up-close tasks such as reading, writing, or drawing, will oftentimes exhibit other symptoms such as eye strain, blurred vision, and headaches. You will likely notice that they read slowly, may read the same line repeatedly or lose their place entirely, and they may have trouble remembering what they have read.

What is ADHD?

ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is generally known as a condition in which someone both has extreme trouble focusing and displays excess energy, making it harder to sit still in places such as the classroom. ADHD is classified as a developmental disorder, but it very often results in difficulty learning.

 

Symptoms

Children with ADHD will also have difficulty focusing on tasks, and, while reading, are also likely to read more slowly and lose their place often. Additionally, children with ADHD can have difficulty remembering what they have read. In both cases as well, frustration at the difficulty with reading can lead to fidgeting and a more visible inability to pay attention

What is ADHD?
What’s the Connection?

What’s the Connection?

Due to the fact that both convergence insufficiency and ADHD make it harder to focus on tasks for extended periods of time (there is no small amount of overlap between their respective list of symptoms), and the fact that ADHD is a much more well-known condition, children with convergence insufficiency can be misdiagnosed as having ADHD.

What’s the Connection?

In fact, recent studies show that children with visual impairments are twice as likely to be diagnosed as having ADHD than the overall average. Additionally, a 2000 study found that children who were diagnosed with ADHD are three times as likely to have convergence insufficiency.

These results are another indication that at least some of these children might not need ADHD medication if their convergence insufficiency was properly diagnosed and treated.

At present, however, there is not a complete consensus on whether ADHD and convergence insufficiency are closely related, or if the higher prevalence of ADHD diagnoses is simply due to convergence insufficiency being a less well known condition.

There is also no evidence that either disorder causes the other. Although, as was already mentioned, they are often found together.

What is ADHD?
What’s the Connection?

Plan of Action

 

Get a Diagnosis

If your child is having attention issues in the classroom or while doing homework, and if there is reason to suspect they have an attention disorder or a learning disorder, make sure to also get your child a developmental eye exam by our optometrist. If a vision issue is discovered, our eye doctor will be able to make recommendations on treatment. It is generally advisable to attempt to treat a vision issue which may be the cause of the attention difficulties before resorting to medication for ADHD. In addition to a proper diagnosis of convergence insufficiency potentially saving your child from receiving treatment for the wrong disorder, the stigma of having a learning disorder is something best avoided--especially if the child does not actually have one.

Seek Treatment

Vision therapy is an effective method for treating convergence insufficiency, though it will not help an ADHD patient unless they also have a vision issue. Vision therapy treatment includes numerous exercises designed to train the patient to use their eyes more efficiently and ensure that the entire visual system is functioning as it should. Vision therapy treatment is highly individualized based on the needs of the patient, so that they can achieve the best possible outcome.

Dr. Ikeda cartoon

Summary

When issues of focus in the classroom arise, both convergence insufficiency and ADHD are potential culprits. Learn more about the connection between these two disorders, and contact us to schedule an appointment if you suspect your child has a vision issue impacting their learning ability.

Testimonials


  • 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.

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