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Vision Problems vs. ADHD in Children: Watch for a Misdiagnosis

Is your child having a hard time in school? Have you noticed more “little” mistakes lately? While these symptoms sound like ADHD, don’t assume it is. It could be a vision problem! In terms of vision problems vs. ADHD in children, there is one big concern. Misdiagnoses. The symptoms are almost identical. Thus, functional vision problems could go undiagnosed.

Functional Vision

When it comes to vision problems vs. ADHD in children, the symptoms for functional vision problems are similar to ADHD symptoms.

To clarify, functional vision is how your entire visual system works together to process information. Hence, it provides cues on how to interact with your environment.

The symptoms

Common symptoms include trouble paying attention during class, reading below grade level, lack of concentration and rushing through tasks. Another similarity is difficulty playing sports.

However, there are a few key differences in vision problems vs. ADHD in children.

The differences

For example, a child with ADHD often struggles with certain forms of impulse control.

This can present itself when children climb or run around when it is not appropriate. Perhaps participating in quiet activities seems extra hard or they are always “on the go.”

More about vision problems vs. ADHD in children

According to the CDC, about six million children are diagnosed with ADHD. If you suspect or your child has been diagnosed with ADHD, the next step should be a visit to your family’s eye doctor.

From there, the eye doctor can work with your child to rule out functional vision problems such as convergence insufficiency.

To summarize, this is when the eyes have to work harder to process and understand visual information correctly.

With such intricate differences and so many similarities between vision problems and ADHD in children, it is important to establish whether it is one or the other, or possibly a combination of both.

What’s more, someone with 20/20 vision or prescription glasses could still have convergence insufficiency, for instance.


The good news is once a proper diagnosis has been given, proper treatment can begin. For functional vision problems, vision therapy can often help with symptoms. Contact your local Mississippi Eye Care clinic if you have any questions or if you would like more information about our services. Read our blogs for more on vision health.