Eyes: do they function as a team?

There was an interesting article in Dr. Gifford-Jones’ column in our local paper today entitled,   Is it ADHD, or eye problem?

He quoted Dr. Patrick Quaid, from the Guelph Vision Therapy Centre, who claims that some children diagnosed with ADHD could, in fact, have some sort of ocular malfunction, specifically double vision or ‘convergence insufficiency’.

Dr. Gifford-Jones states:  “Convergence insufficiency is not rare.  Quaid claims one in 10 people has some sort of eye teaming problem. But what is shocking, and generally unknown, is children affected with ADHD have three times greater risk of convergence insufficiency.  All the more reason these children must see an eye doctor who is cognizant of eye teaming abnormalities.”

These problems can certainly manifest themselves in a classroom as inattention,  difficulty focusing and a reluctance to read.  As Dr. Gifford-Jones goes on to say, most children probably won’t complain about their eyes because they don’t realize they have a problem – to them, their vision is ‘normal’.    They don’t realize that what they are seeing is not what the rest of us are seeing.  Educators and parents must advocate for these students.

Whenever we had a student brought to the School Based Team for concerns with reading or ADHD, one of the first things I always requested of the parents was to have both vision and hearing checked.  Sometimes, if there were concerns with general health,  nutrition or sleep, we would recommend a physical check-up as well.    For the vision check-up, I encouraged parents to have the eye care professional  go beyond the basic acuity check and ensure that the eyes were working properly together.  It is imperative that we deal with any possible basic physical issues before we try to remediate a reading problem or diagnose a child with ADHD.

Dr. Gifford-Jones recommends the College of Optometrists Vision Development website for further information on this topic.

NOTE: Eye problems – for children who struggle to differentiate letters visually, our Alphabet  Book shows them the visual connection between the letter  and the picture cues.