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ADHD More Common in Children with Vision Problems

After analyzing a nationally representative sample of children, researchers found that children with vision problems not correctable with glasses or contacts may be twice as likely to have ADHD.

April 28, 2016

A study, published in the journal Optometry and Vision Science sought to compare the incidence of ADHD in children who can see normally, and those with vision problems which cannot be corrected with glasses or contacts. Examples of this type of vision problems include disorders of eye alignment (crossed eyes) or eye movement (nystagmus). They found that, after adjusting for other factors known to be associated with ADHD, children with vision problems were nearly two times more likely to have ADHD.

The researchers, led by Dawn K. DeCarlo, OD, MSPH, FAAO, of University of Alabama at Birmingham, analyzed data from the cross-sectional 2011-2012 National Survey of Children’s Health, conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The sample included 75,171 children between age four and 17. Telephone interviewers asked parents about the child’s vision as assessed by a health care provider, ADHD, intellectual impairment, and condition severity.

The results showed that 15.6% of children with vision problems had ADHD, while only 8.3% of children with normal vision had the condition — 1.8 times more likely. For children with moderate vision issues, the rate was even higher — 2. 6 times higher prevalence. After a multivariable analysis adjusting for confounding variables, vision problems were still independently associated with ADHD regardless of patient and family characteristics.

“Children with vision problems should be monitored for signs and symptoms of ADHD so that this dual impairment of vision and attention can best be addressed,” concluded Dr. DeCarlo and the other researchers.

Journal Reference:

1. Dawn K. DeCarlo, Mark Swanson, Gerald McGwin, Kristina Visscher, Cynthia Owsley. ADHD and Vision Problems in the National Survey of Children’s Health. Optometry and Vision Science, 2016; 93 (5): 459-465. DOI: 10.1097/OPX.0000000000000823

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