Suburban Eye Care, Dr. John Jacobi

Suburban Eye Care, Dr. John Jacobi

May 22, 2012 13:00 ET

Your ADHD-Diagnosed Child May Have Vision Problems, Not ADHD

Vision Therapy With Optometrist Dr. John Jacobi Could Handle Your Child's 'Behavioral' Problems

LIVONIA, MICHIGAN--(Marketwire - May 22, 2012) - The number of children in the U.S. being diagnosed with ADHD is climbing at an alarming rate. But many experts feel that a significant percentage of those children may be misdiagnosed. In fact, their real problem may be reversible vision problems, said Dr. John Jacobi of Suburban Eye Care in Livonia, Michigan.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage of children with a parent-reported ADHD diagnosis increased by 22 percent between 2003 and 2007, and the numbers have continued to climb. In 2010 alone, more than 10 million children in the U.S. were diagnosed with ADHD, representing an increase from 2000 of 66 percent.

"The problem with these diagnoses," said Dr. Jacobi, "Is that they are sometimes based strictly on observation of symptoms by parents or teachers. If a child is easily distracted, fidgets in class, doesn't seem to be paying attention, can't focus on tasks or get through homework, or exhibits other behavior commonly associated with ADHD, he is likely to be diagnosed with that condition. But there are many other things that can cause those same symptoms, including vision problems."

Many experts agree with Dr. Jacobi. In fact, vision problems are widely acknowledged as common reasons for manifestation of ADHD and consequent misdiagnosis.

"Imagine being a child in class who is supposed to be reading. You start the task and, before long, the print starts jumping and moving around on the page. You strain and strain to focus, but it just doesn't work. You experience extreme discomfort and frustration, and possibly get a headache. Eventually, you're off doing something else - anything - to get relief," Dr. Jacobi explained. "So now the child is fidgeting, off-task, distracted, not paying attention, unable to complete what he's doing, and so on, all symptoms of ADHD. But, in this case, the real problem was convergence insufficiency - difficulty coordinating both eyes to get them to properly focus on something close - just one of the many vision problems that the child could be experiencing without the parents, teachers, or even the doctor discovering it."

How common is convergence insufficiency? A study conducted by Dr. David B. Granet, nationally known pediatric ophthalmologist and director of the Ratner Children's Eye Center of the University of California in San Diego, revealed that convergence insufficiency, which affects 3 to 5 percent of the general child population, is three times more common in children with ADHD.

According to Dr. Jacobi, misdiagnosis of ADHD can be dangerous.

"If children are misdiagnosed with ADHD, it causes two problems. First, the kids are not getting their vision problems handled and have to live with that daily discomfort and sense of frustration and failure and, second, they are probably on drugs. Of the 10 million kids who are diagnosed with ADHD every year, 87 percent of their doctor visits end up with prescriptions for potentially dangerous medications with a long list of side effects. The FDA has even issued warnings about these drugs. If ADHD is misdiagnosed, we've put our kids on these drugs for no reason."

The good news is that a visit to an optometrist experienced in delivering vision therapy to children with vision-related learning problems could completely reverse the condition.

"If you suspect your child might have ADHD," said Dr. Jacobi, "Make a visit to your optometrist your top priority. In our practice, it is not uncommon for behavioral problems to completely resolve with correct vision therapy."

To find out more about vision problems and their relationship to ADHD and related behavioral difficulties, or for more information about vision therapy, visit Dr. Jacobi's website:

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