Visual System Could Play A Big Role in People With ADHD


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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (“ADHD”) is a condition that has become a very common diagnosis within the past 30 years.  The term “Attention Deficit Disorder” (“ADD”) was first used as a diagnosis in 1980.  I am often surprised by how many of the patients that I see, especially children, have been diagnosed as having ADHD.  This is a very frustrating condition for both patients and their parents to deal with and it has unfortunately led to millions of people being medicated as a treatment.
    Medications such as Ritalin and Adderall have certainly helped numerous people to overcome the problems associated with ADHD and to live more productive lives.  However, what else can be done for patients with ADHD?  Are there ways to help these people without the use of neurologically-acting medications?
     Here’s an interesting fact.  Studies have shown that a large percentage of children who have been diagnosed as having ADHD also suffer from visual perceptual problems.  In fact, in many of these cases the visual perceptual problem is what actually causes the symptoms that lead to the diagnosis of ADHD.  This is actually great news because visual perceptual problems can be treated through the use several vision therapy techniques, without the use of medications.
     In an ideal situation, our brains are able to process the information sent to it from our eyes and easily interpret that information.  People with visual perceptual disorders are not able to easily do this.  Amazingly, this condition can exist even if the person has 20/20 vision!  Unfortunately, this means that these conditions may not be found or diagnosed during a routine eye examination.  And most eye doctors are not specialized in this area to be able to diagnose and treat patients with these problems.
    We are very lucky at our office because my associate, Dr. Catherine Darling, specializes in the treatment of patients with visual perceptual disorders.  Through the use of several different training techniques, she is able to help people develop a much stronger working relationship between the eyes and brain.  This leads to large improvements in performance in school and work and provides people with a finely tuned visual system that they can benefit from for the rest of their lives.
    So if you or your child have been diagnosed as having ADHD, or if the symptoms of ADHD are present, be sure to have an evaluation of the visual perceptual system to determine if there are any problems present which could be causing these symptoms.
Douglas Black, O.D.