High distractibility and difficulty remaining on task are not the sole domain of ADD. These can be symptoms of other problems. Children with undetected vision problems can exhibit symptoms similar to ADD. Studies show that approximately 20% of school-aged children suffer from eye teaming or focusing deficits which make remaining on task for long periods of time difficult. Like those with ADD, children with vision-based learning problems are highly distractible, have short attention spans, make careless errors, fail to complete assignments, and are often fidgety and off task. However, their inability to remain on task is caused by the discomfort of using their eyes for long periods of time at close ranges, not true deficits in attention. Unfortunately, parents and teachers are not trained to recognize the difference and these children are often misdiagnosed.


For example, children with eye teaming disorders called convergence insufficiency and convergence excess often appear to have ADD or ADHD. These children have difficulty using their two eyes together at the close-up distances required for reading and writing. After a short period of time, they can no longer control their eye movements, and the print on the page begins to jump and move as they struggle to aim their eyes at the same point on the page. The result is a great deal of eyestrain as they fight to coordinate their eyes. Soon these children are forced to exercise their only relief–avoidance of the close-up tasks which are making them uncomfortable. These children are often looking around the room, getting a drink, going to the bathroom, staring out the window, or talking to their neighbors. They’re taking “vision breaks,” although they don’t realize that’s what they’re doing. Children with eye teaming problems have always seen this way, and most are not aware that their close-up vision is not normal. Few report eye strain or blurred or double print; all they know is that they cannot continue with their seat work one more moment. As the day progresses, they become increasingly fatigued and frustrated.

Click here to read more from the Children’s Vision Information Network.

Misdiagnosed with ADD?

Have you been told your child has a learning problem or trouble paying attention? Children with vision problems may be misdiagnosed with ADD.

Learn more at

The Rise of ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder diagnosis have dramatically increased over the last few decades. Read this New York Times article to learn more.

Having Vision Problems?

Contact the experts at Heartland Eye Consultants.