Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham have published a study showing a correlation between children with non-correctable vision problems and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
The study was based on a survey of 75,000 children, and suggests that kids suffering from vision problems such as lazy eye or colour blindness, conditions not treatable with corrective lenses, are at an increased risk of developing ADHD.
Results from the UAB study have been published in Optometry and Vision Science. The link between vision impairment and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder may help to explain why ADHD has become one of the most commonly diagnosed neurodevelopmental disorders in children.
It also suggests that, because of the correlation, special attention should be given to children with vision impairment, in an effort to prevent them from additional impairment due to attention deficit.
The study focused on children between the ages of 4 and 17, and included data from the National Survey of Children’s Health. By comparison, 8.3% of children with normal eyesight have an ADHD diagnosis, whereas children with vision impairment almost double in diagnosis rate to more than 15%.
According to Dawn DeCarlo, Director of the UAB Center for Low Vision Rehabilitation and lead investigator on the study, while there may be a link between the rates of ADHD diagnosis and vision impairment, there isn’t necessarily a cause and effect relationship between the two. DeCarlo stated “Because we do not know if the relationship is causal, we have no recommendations for prevention,”; she also said “I think it is more important that parents realize that children with vision problems may not realize they do not see as well as everyone else”;
DeCarlo added “If a child seems to have attention problems in addition to vision problems, his or her parents may wish to discuss their child’s vision with their pediatrician and consider an eye examination as well as discussing the attention difficulties.”
If a child begins to show symptoms of vision problems, focusing on correcting his or her vision should be the first priority, instead of worrying about the possible development of behavioral problems. Eyeglasses may be enough to solve the problem early.
Additional studies involving both pediatricians and eye care professionals would help solidify the results from these preliminary findings.