Eye Disorder Linked to ADHD in Children

NEW YORK, Apr 14, 2000 (Reuters Health) -- An eye disorder appears to be linked to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children, according to University of California, San Diego researchers.

The eye problem, called convergence insufficiency, is a physical problem of the eye that makes it difficult to keep both eyes focused on a near target. The disorder affects less than 5% of children -- but the research team found that it is three times more common in children with ADHD than in other children.

``This is the first report on the potential connection of these two disorders,'' Dr. David B. Granet said this week during the American Academy of Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus meeting in San Diego.

Granet and colleagues reviewed the records of 266 children identified as having an inability to keep both eyes focused on a close target.  The investigators found that 26 children (9.8%) also had a diagnosis of ADHD. ``Twenty of these patients were on medication for ADHD when diagnosed with convergence insufficiency,'' Granet told Reuters Health.

When the researchers reviewed their institution's records of 1,700 children diagnosed with ADHD, they discovered that about 176 also had eye exams, Granet said. ``Of these, almost 16% or 28 children also had convergence insufficiency,'' he added.

This analysis shows that ``children with ADHD had three times the incidence of convergence insufficiency than what was expected in children walking in off the street,'' Granet said.

Convergence insufficiency ``makes it more difficult to concentrate on reading, which is also one of the ways doctors diagnose ADHD,'' Granet commented.

``Convergence insufficiency may not be well known outside the field of eye care specialists,'' Granet told Reuters Health. ``We don't know if children are being misdiagnosed with ADHD when they truly have convergence insufficiency or vice versa,'' he said. ``We also don't know if one causes the other or if medications used for ADHD cause convergence insufficiency,'' he added.

``More study needs to be completed to confirm the connection and to answer these questions,'' Granet said.

Granet also noted that convergence insufficiency responds to eye exercises that can be done at home.

#### -end- ####


Many eye care professionals know that a low plus "reading lens" can often be very helpful in reducing the near-point-stress that some readers experience.

Near-point-stress itself may be a factor in the collapse or reduction in the peripheral visual fields.  Use of a low plus lens for near-point activity, like reading, can reduce the stress and relatively quickly expand the fields.  The Visual Field Instrument can show this.  

Peripheral visual fields provide important visual information needed by the visual areas of the brain with adequate information in order that eye muscles can be directed to "line-up" the eyes so both eyes will be able to work together.