ADD or just can’t see? The restless child in the classroom may have a vision problem.

Is your child or student acting restless in class? Making careless mistakes on schoolwork? Not listening to the lecture and rubbing his/her eyes? Don’t reach for the Ritalin quite yet. Instead, you might want to first schedule a visit to the optometrist.

Many times what is originally diagnosed as attention deficit disorder (ADD) is actually covergence insufficiency – an inability to focus the eyes at close range. The symptoms, outlined previously, are very similar, and recent studies have discovered a relation between the two, though the exact nature of the correlation is not yet clear. (Read more at

However, when a child is experiencing difficulty seeing, he/she will usually avoid “near point” activities – such as reading a text book or writing an assignment – and will appear to be bored or daydreaming. Teachers and/or parents will then encourage the child to “try harder”, not realizing that no amount of effort on the child’s end will make up for the difficulty in seeing. Often the child will grow frustrated from this pressure, and become even more disengaged from academics, incurring even more disciplinary attention. Without detection and treatment of the vision problem, a vicious cycle continues.

With this in mind, Keystone View recommends that any child suspected of having ADD receive a thorough vision screening, evaluating visual tracking, fixation, focus change, and binocular fusion (how both eyes work together).

Indeed, the relationship makes sense. Well-functioning vision enables a person – child or adult – to pay attention (relying less on movement to stay alert), to better comprehend text or a lecture and to read and write more accurately and effortlessly – all essential ingredients to academic success.