Many children who are diagnosed with ADD/ADHD may also have visual issues that contribute to their behavioral problems. There is a significant correlation between children with farsightedness, or hyperopia, and hyperactive disorders.
Individuals who are farsighted have a harder time focusing on nearby objects and need to use the focusing system of the eye more than the average person. Left untreated, farsightedness can lead to blurred vision while reading, tiredness or fatigue with nearwork, as well as headaches or double vision. Adults at this stage will typically seek care from an optometrist or ophthalmologist. But in the case of a child who has never experienced comfortable, clear vision, they may never specifically about their vision or eyes, for lack of knowing anything else. A child with these eye issues may be categorized as having poor attention skills because they have difficulty sustaining near tasks without visual discomfort, and thus may be more likely to fidget in the classroom, talk to a neighbor, etc.
A visual screening at school or at a pediatrician's office will likely not detect visual problems in a moderately farsighted child. Therefore, difficulties in school may not be recognized as visually related. It’s important for all children to have a comprehensive eye exam with an optometrist. The American Optometric Association recommends children to have an eye exam within the first year of life, again at three years of age, and a third time before first grade. From then on it is recommended that a child get an eye exam every 1 or 2 years, depending on his/her individual needs.
An optometrist will be able to diagnose and treat visual issues even before they affect a child in school. Depending on the visual demands of the child and their specific eye issues, glasses or vision therapy may be prescribed. Full-time or part-time wear of glasses may be necessary to improve vision for reading and reduce eyestrain. Vision therapy, on the other hand, is a type of physical therapy for the eyes and brain which may be recommended in order to improve a child's vision.
To avoid this confusion, be sure to schedule your child for regular eye exams!