Vision and ADD/ADHD
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a common condition diagnosed in children and adults. It is estimated that 3 to 5% of school-aged children presently have this disorder. The condition often leads to academic difficulties and performance that is well below potential.
ADD/ADHD is a complex problem that can result from a variety of issues.
The symptoms commonly associated with and used to diagnose ADD/ADHD are also seen in children and adults with Sensory Integration Dysfunction, Nutrition Allergies, or Learning-Related Visual Problems.
Much of our academic (and work) environment requires students to sustain visual attention on near-point tasks for lengthy periods. In order to accomplish this, the two eyes must coordinate as a team and point at the same place. The two eyes must focus at the proper distance and maintain clarity. The two eyes must move and track to understand or get meaning from what is viewed.
These functional aspects of vision go far beyond whether a person can see 20/20 or not. When these functional visual skills are lacking, the student is unable to sustain attention on near-point tasks. Fatigue and distraction set in and the student begins to make careless mistakes, fidgets and squirms, talks excessively, interrupts others, fails to follow directions, or begins to move about to touch and feel objects in the environment.
"ADD and Vision Problems"
A Developmental Optometry evaluation will reveal whether visual factors are contributing to a student’s attention difficulties. When functional vision difficulties are found, they are treated through a program of Vision Therapy. Vision Therapy is aimed at providing students with the necessary visual skills to manage the visually stressful near tasks frequently encountered in school. Vision Therapy begins by addressing the following that are necessary to sustain attention on near tasks:
- Two-eye coordination
- Eye tracking skills
Vision Therapy also works with the visual perceptual and cognitive skills that are necessary to quickly get meaning and understanding from what is being viewed.
In addition to functional vision problems, ADD/ADHD students often have difficulties in maintaining sequence and rhythm in directing their activities. It is as if the stoplights in a city are nonfunctional or uncoordinated so that frequent traffic jams occur.
In ADD/ADHD, information coming from the senses may not be directed and managed well in the brain on its way to the expressive functions, such as muscular movements or speech. The individual has a hard time staying on task, because the sequence of events is constantly interrupted by extraneous stimuli.
These sequence and timing issues can be improved through a vision therapy program and also benefit from specialized training utilizing Interactive Metronome, a patented technology that has been shown to improve attention, coordination, and timing in children and adults with a wide range of cognitive and physical difficulties including ADD/ADHD.