Children's Vision Problems are Often Misdiagnosed as ADHD

A new school year is an exciting time for kids and parents alike. New books, new teachers, and new classrooms can all have a direct impact on your child, inspiring new activities and interests, and even changes in behaviors.

But once the dust settles and the school year is in full motion, your child’s negative behaviors in the classroom or at home may become a cause for concern.

A lack of focus or an inability to sit still and pay attention in the classroom or while doing homework may lead you to believe that your child has a behavioral disorder, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

While your ADHD concerns may be valid, you should consider other issues affecting your child’s health before assuming a behavioral disorder. Specifically, start with your child’s vision.

Why vision screenings are essential

As part of your child’s overall physical health evaluation, they should receive routine vision screenings once a year. Throughout a child’s development, their eyes continue to change. If vision problems aren’t detected early, it could cause problems at school and home.

These problems can develop into issues that are similar to the symptoms of ADHD, leading parents and educators traveling down the wrong diagnostic path.

Poor vision and ADHD

To ensure your child’s vision center develops normally, both eyes must be working together to provide the brain with images and information. When vision problems affect the brain, your child may start exhibiting hallmark symptoms of ADHD, such as:

You may notice your child rushing through or ignoring assignments. They may start developing behaviors like this to avoid the symptoms of vision problems, such as double vision, blurry vision, and headaches.

Vision problems are especially concerning because young children may not be able to communicate the problems they are having, leading adults in their life to assume it’s a behavior problem.

And when parents and teachers discipline them for these vision-based behavior problems, children feel may bad about themselves and give up on caring about school and the process of learning. This can have a long-lasting impact on their future education.

Diagnosing the difference

The only reliable way to determine if your child’s issues in school relate to their vision or a behavior disorder is to have your child’s vision tested.

At Cooper Eye Care, your child can receive a comprehensive functional eye exam that assesses how well the eyes are working together and if there’s any issues with seeing text or objects clearly. The test can also determine if your child needs eyeglasses to correct issues like nearsightedness or farsightedness.

In some cases, a child with ADHD may also have vision problems that worsen symptoms of the behavior disorder. A functional eye exam can confirm or rule out vision issues that are interfering with your child’s education so that additional behavioral testing can be done.

Managing learning issues and vision

Helping your child overcome school problems may involve vision therapy. Vision therapy is a nonsurgical treatment that can address vision problems that corrective lenses can’t fix.

Cooper Eye Care offers weekly one-on-one vision therapy sessions that involve therapeutic activities to help your child read more effectively and improve their success at school.

Therapy may include exercises to improve:

Vision therapy is customized to meet your child’s specific needs and improve their overall performance in school. Brief exercises should also be done at home every day to strengthen your child’s overall eye health. Through routine follow-up appointments, your child’s vision acuity is evaluated as they continue to grow and develop.

To schedule a vision function test for your child, call Cooper Eye Care or use the convenient online booking feature.

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