New Study Shows Farsightedness in Children Is Related to ADHD

Farsightedness (hyperopia) is a very common refractory defect that makes it difficult to focus on the objects near you. It affects 5-10% of the US population and about 1 billion people worldwide are believed to suffer from age-related farsightedness (presbyopia). A recent study from the Ohio State University shows that this vision disorder might not be as ‘innocent’ as we see it. It establishes a direct connection between farsightedness in children and all kinds of attention and learning difficulties.

Farsightedness in Children: Causes and Concerns

According to estimations, 4-14% of young children have farsightedness. These are pre-school kids who don’t really spend much time reading. This is one of the reasons why this condition often remains undiagnosed.

Even if it is noticed, the majority of sources on kid health are like this. It’s a current belief that farsightedness in children is normal and doesn’t require specialized treatment.

Obviously, this latest study on its relation to attention disorders shows that this is not the case.

While it’s true that kids often ‘grow out of’ this vision disorder. It’s also true that learning and attention difficulties developed in childhood can persist and turn into debilitating ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).

Another problem with farsightedness is that its cause remains unknown. Ophthalmologists understand that it occurs when the eye is too short. The condition’s opposite – nearsightedness occurs when the eyeball is too long. However, while we currently know that the latter can occur in kids because of the lack of sunlight exposure, the exact cause of farsightedness is a mystery.

This issue is the main reason for why there is no effective treatment or prevention for this particular vision defect. It’s a common issue for eye problems as quite often they turn chronic and can only be partially managed using mildly effective eye drops. That’s the situation with blepharitis treatment and dry eye syndrome. Both these conditions have become more prevalent in kids in the last decade.

However, farsightedness in children can only use glasses and contact lenses for vision correction. These are only rarely prescribed to kids in the hopes of the aforementioned ‘the problem with fix itself’.

So, What’s the Connection Between Farsightedness and ADHD?

An older study on untreated farsightedness in children has shown that affected children show significantly lower results on literacy tests. Simply put, these kids struggle with reading and writing for one simple reason.

They cannot see the text.

That’s what farsightedness does and why nearly a billion of people over 40 need reading glasses. However, in kids this vision defect-induced problem is usually mistaken for lack of ability.

The latest study, however, shows that poor literacy is only a part of the problem. Inability to focus on objects also results in the child’s inability to focus and keep attention on a single object. This is how farsightedness in children directly morphs into ADHD.

For all that this study highlights a humongous problem in the modern society, it’s very small. Despite its results being undisputed, it hardly covers the scope of the problem. There also isn’t a study that could show whether vision correction in preschoolers with farsightedness can help solve their attention problems.

However, this research might shed some light on the reasons behind the steady increase in ADHD diagnosis.

What to Do If Your Child Is Farsighted?

First of all, be sure to take your kids to regular checkups to diagnose the problem as early as possible. Bear in mind that farsightedness might turn into amblyopia, the main cause of permanent vision loss in kids.

Once the vision defect is diagnosed, there’s little you can do but to get your kid glasses. You also should buy books with large print that your child will be able to see and cut down the time of any activities that strain the vision. Make sure your kids take frequent breaks when doing anything hard on the eyes.

Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn't know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.