Research: Connection Possible Between
Eye Disorder in Children and ADHD

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A potential relationship between convergence insufficiency and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has been uncovered by researchers at the University of California, San Diego. "This is the first report on the potential connection of these two disorders," Dr. David B. Granet [UCSD Shiley Eye Center ophthalmologist] said last week during the American Academy of Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus meeting in San Diego [Thursday, April 13, 2000].

After noticing an association clinically between ADHD and convergence insufficiency, Dr. Granet and colleagues reviewed the records of 266 children diagnosed with the eye disorder. The investigators found that 26 of these children (9.8%) also had a diagnosis of ADHD. "Twenty of these patients were on medication for ADHD when diagnosed with convergence insufficiency," Dr. Granet said.

The researchers then reviewed their institution's records on 1,700 children diagnosed with ADHD who had also had eye examinations. Of the 176 children identified, "almost 16%, or 28 children, also had convergence insufficiency," Dr. Granet said.

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," Dr. Granet said. Convergence insufficiency, an inability to keep both eyes focused on a close target, "makes it more difficult to concentrate on reading, which is also one of the ways doctors diagnose ADHD," he noted.

"Convergence insufficiency may not be well known outside the field of eye care specialists," Dr. 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."