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ADHD and Vision Therapy

ADHD may actually be a vision problem

If your child (or you) has been diagnosed with ADHD, you may be surprised to learn that ADHD has many of the same symptoms as a functional vision problem

Fortunately, functional vision problems are detectable and treatable. If a functional vision problem is the actual source of your child’s difficulty with attention, there may be no need for ADHD treatments like medication.

That’s why a functional vision problem should be ruled out first for any child who is exhibiting signs and symptoms of an attention problem.

To be clear: Your child may have a vision problem. They may have ADHD.  They may have both! But the first step to determining exactly what’s wrong so you can treat them correctly is to schedule a functional vision exam.

Symptoms of ADHD and functional vision problem may look the same

At The Vision Therapy Center, we’ve had many cases in which parents have brought in a child diagnosed with ADHD, only to discover that many (or all) of the child’s symptoms could be attributed to a functional vision problem.  

Look at how the symptoms overlap:

ADHD Symptoms vs Vision Problems Symptoms Chart

*The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s shortened form of ADHD criteria based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5)
**American Optometric Association

So what is a functional vision exam and why is it different than a typical eye exam?

Most eye exams focus on eyesight – or the ability to see clearly (i.e., 20/20 vision) at distance. A functional eye exam goes beyond eyesight and assesses the three visual skill areas that make up functional vision:

  • Eye movements
  • Eye teaming
  • Eye focusing

When any or all of these visual skill areas aren’t working well, the child has a functional vision problem. This negatively impacts a child’s performance in everything they do.

Not all optometrists have the advanced training or equipment required to test for and treat functional vision problems, which is why many refer their patients to The Vision Therapy Center. 

The pre-test and exam take 60-90 minutes to complete. Our standard functional vision exam for a new patient costs $258 and may be covered by your health insurance benefits.

If a functional vision problem is found, we may recommend visual perceptual testing. This 90 minute visit costs $167 and evaluates gross and fine motor skills, integration of what is seen and what is heard and the effect of the functional vision problem on how the child processes what they see.

If it is a functional vision problem, what can be done?

The good thing about functional vision problems is that they are treatable! Treatment can range from a glasses prescription to improve visual performance to an individualized program of optometric vision therapy. 

If the examining doctor recommends vision therapy, the individualized treatment plan is presented to the parent(s) of the child at our no-cost patient education visit. 

Most programs last between 6-9 months and the results can be life-changing:

Watch Kelly and Tim Werwie discuss the challenges – and ultimate triumphs – of their son Titus, who had ADHD symptoms that turned out to be a functional vision problem.


Your exam will be conducted by board-certified developmental optometrists and vision therapists

Developmental optometrists are specifically trained to diagnose and treat functional vision problems.  

Since 1995, the developmental optometrists and vision therapists at The Vision Therapy Center have been committed to improving people’s quality of life with the diagnosis and treatment of functional vision problems: 

Dr. Kellye Knueppel  - Dr. Brandon Begotka - Dr. Heather Motisi - Dr. Megan Thistle

  • Members of the Optometric Extension Program Foundation, the College of Optometrists in Vision Development, the American Optometric Association and the Wisconsin Optometric Association. 

Why a Functional Vision Exam should be done right away

Your child might have ADHD.  They might have a functional vision problem.  They might have both. Because functional vision problems are treatable, they should be the first thing that you rule out if you are seeing signs and symptoms of an attention problem.

Do you think you or your child's ADD/ADHD-like symptoms may be the result of a functional vision problem?

Schedule a functional vision exam to find out. Fill out the form below and a representative from The Vision Therapy Center will follow-up with you to schedule an appointment.

About the content on this website

The content on this website has been created by The Vision Therapy Center. It was written by professional writers and then reviewed and edited for medical accuracy by the Developmental Optometrists at The Vision Therapy Center.