Does your child have poor attention in the classroom? Do they have a hard time sitting still? Have you been told that your child has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (“ADHD”)? Unfortunately, many doctors today agree that ADHD is overdiagnosed. Some practitioners are quick to want to medicate and not look at the patient’s full picture. What truly is causing “ADHD” in your child?
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), National Institutes of Health (NIH), and researchers across the country are studying the causes of ADHD. Current research suggests ADHD may be caused by interactions between genes and environmental or non-genetic factors. The NIMH believes that several factors contribute to ADHD, such as genes; cigarette smoking, alcohol, or drug use during pregnancy; exposure to environmental toxins such as lead at a young age; low birth weight; and brain injuries.
In 2005, Dr. David Granet, a professor of ophthalmology and pediatrics at the University of California, San Diego, studied 266 patients with a binocular vision dysfunction (BVD) called convergence insufficiency (CI). Close to 10% of the patients were also diagnosed with ADHD. A review of medical records revealed a 15.9% incidence of CI in the ADHD population. Dr. Granet’s study concluded that there is “an apparent three-fold greater incidence of ADHD among patients with CI when compared with the incidence of ADHD in the general US population (1.8-3.3%). We also note a seeming three-fold greater incidence of CI in the ADHD population.”
Has your child received an eye exam and been told that their vision is 20/20? Do you know that having 20/20 vision does not mean that a person’s eyes are working together properly? Just because each eye is seeing well does not mean that both eyes are focusing on a target at the same place (horizontally, vertically, or both). A binocular vision disorder may be causing a person with 20/20 vision to see double or overlapping images. It could be that your child is not attentive in class because their focus is bouncing between two images or they cannot read a book for longer than 5 minutes. For most of these children, this is their “normal,” so they may not be able to verbalize what they are seeing. A neurovisual evaluation is the only eye exam that will be able to measure these small misalignments of their eyes.
Here is a list of signs that your child may have BVD:
- They “tilt” their head
- Motion sickness
- Nausea/difficulty gaining weight
- Clumsiness (poor depth perception)
- Sore, tired eyes
- Skip lines when reading
- Re-reading for comprehension
- Blurred or double vision
- Light sensitivity
- Closing or covering an eye
How do we correct for binocular vision dysfunction? We use specialized aligning lenses in eyeglasses to correct for these small misalignments of the eyes. These glasses may be worn full-time or just for schoolwork. Visit our website and take the questionnaire to “see” if your child’s ADHD is really an undiagnosed BVD.