An Eye On ADHD


If your child is always in trouble at school and just won't settle down, is his problem attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or simply a case of kids being kids? New research suggests that there may be a third, somewhat surprising, culprit.

David Granet, Ph.D., director of pediatric ophthalmology at the Shiley Eye Center at the University of California-San Diego, reviewed the records of 1,700 children diagnosed with ADHD and discovered that, of those who had taken eye exams, 16% had convergence insufficiency, an eye disorder that makes focusing on nearby targets difficult. People with this disorder can find reading a real struggle. The study, presented recently at an American Academy of Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus (AAPOS) meeting, indicates that children with ADHD are three times more likely to have convergence insufficiency than other children. This finding is worrisome particularly because doctors often test for ADHD by examining reading concentration, creating obvious potential for misdiagnosis.

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Granet suspects that either something in the brain impairs concentration and manifests itself as both ADHD and the eye disorder, or that the disorder itself may cause the symptoms we label ADHD. But parents shouldn't despair: Convergence insufficiency can be overcome by practicing simple eye exercises at home.

"I have convergence insufficiency," says Granet. "And neither of these diagnoses means you can't go on in life and have an interesting and successful career."


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