Children’s Vision Problems Can Be Potentially Misdiagnosed As ADHD

Does your child seem restless and distressed by schoolwork? If so, an attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) diagnosis may be a no-brainer. However, these behaviors might be a result of visual issues. ADHD misdiagnosis can happen since its symptoms can overlap with functional vision problems. 


Understanding ADHD


It's normal for kids to have difficulty concentrating at one time or another. But children with ADHD don't just grow out of these behaviors. Their symptoms continue and can become severe, which can cause trouble at home, school, or with their friends. 


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that a kid with ADHD might talk too much, squirm or fidget, forget or lose things a lot, and daydream a lot. They may also take unnecessary risks, make careless mistakes, and have trouble taking turns. Additionally, children diagnosed with this condition likely have a hard time resisting temptation and getting along with others. 


Common Vision Problems Mistaken for ADHD


At least six million children have been diagnosed with ADHD, according to the CDC. While some kids have the condition, you should know that functional vision problems can also cause many of the same ADHD symptoms.


Functional vision refers to a set of learned and developed skills that every person uses to collect and process visual information. It's how your eyes, brain, and visual pathways work together to assist you in interacting with your environment. Some of the visual skill areas that enable functional vision include eye teaming, eye focusing, and eye movement. When children have a problem with their visual skills, it keeps their functional vision from operating correctly. As a result, several behaviors can manifest, which can be mistaken for ADHD symptoms. These include:


  • Trouble With Schoolwork

    • Problems with eye teaming skills will make it hard for your child to read. When their eyes fail to align to focus on the same point and work together in a coordinated and precise way, they will have difficulty seeing a line of text as single and clear. Since reading will take more effort for your kid than it should, the visual discomfort may cause them to read slower. On the other hand, the frustration may cause them to stop trying altogether. Some teachers may view this behavior as something that constantly needs redirection. 


  • Difficulty Paying Attention in School

    • Any issues with visual skills can make ordinary schoolwork so much more taxing for your child. When kids struggle with these regular classroom tasks, they may get exhausted and discouraged. They may also appear fidgety and give up all their efforts by chatting with another student nearby or staring off into space. The effects of their vision problems can translate to inattention, which can be confused with an ADHD symptom. 


Since a vision problem can impact a child's ability to process what they see and integrate that information with their other senses, they may also not respond when spoken to. They are likely to miss details, make careless mistakes, and even exhibit poor performance during play or sports activities. 


Do you suspect that your child may have ADHD? The first thing you should do is rule out functional vision problems. Schedule your child's complete eye examination today at TMS Eyecare. We have two offices in Wichita and one in Arkansas City, Kansas. You can call us at (316) 669-4760, (316) 686-7212, or (620) 442-2577 today to schedule an appointment.