Why Can I Defocus My Eyes at Will with ADHD?

ADHD entails more than just struggling with attention. One lesser-known challenge associated with ADHD is accommodative dysfunction, a problem with eye focus. Although accommodative dysfunction is not exclusive to individuals with ADHD, it is not uncommon for both conditions to coexist.

An Overview of Accommodative Dysfunction and Vision Issues

There is a strong correlation between ADHD and vision problems, despite vision problems not being recognized as official symptoms of ADHD. People with ADHD often experience abnormal eye movements, relocations, and visual perception issues, which can pose difficulties with visual tracking.[^1]

Signs and Symptoms of Accommodative Dysfunction

Some indications of accommodative dysfunction include visual stress, visual strain, headaches, fatigue, and blurry vision.[^4]

Vision Problems Often Misdiagnosed as ADHD

Vision issues are frequently mistaken for ADHD, particularly because children may struggle to communicate their vision difficulties. Consequently, their symptoms may be perceived as an inability to pay attention. To avoid misdiagnosis, it is essential to look for signs of ADHD that extend beyond vision problems.[^4]

What Causes Random Eye Defocusing?

The average person, both adults and children, now spends approximately seven hours per day staring at screens, a significant increase attributed to the pandemic.[^2] This excessive screen time poses a challenge to our eyes, as we constantly shift focus between the screen and objects at varying depths in the physical world. This strain can lead to various vision issues, including accommodative dysfunction, where the eyes expend more effort to focus on objects at different distances.[^3]

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Other Vision Issues Associated with ADHD

Astigmatism

Astigmatism, a type of refractive error, occurs when the cornea has a shape resembling a football rather than the typical spherical structure. This common eye imperfection hinders the retina’s ability to process incoming light, resulting in blurry vision.[^4]

Double Vision

Double vision, or diplopia, is one manifestation of convergence insufficiency, which affects how the eyes work together to focus on objects. While ADHD does not directly cause double vision, it is more prevalent in individuals with ADHD.[^5]

Solutions for Vision Problems

If you have ADHD and suspect that you are experiencing vision problems such as blurry vision, astigmatism, nearsightedness, or eye strain, there are several avenues you can explore to alleviate these issues.

1. Schedule an Appointment with an Optometrist

Visiting an optometrist for an eye examination can help determine the severity of your visual impairment.

2. Inquire About Eyeglasses or Contacts

Based on the results of your optometry appointment, you may require glasses or contacts to correct your vision problems.

3. Consider Base-in Prism Glasses

Individuals with convergence insufficiency may benefit from base-in prism glasses, specifically designed to improve eye function.

4. Explore Laser Eye Surgery

If recommended by your optometrist, weigh the pros and cons of laser eye surgery as a potential solution for your vision problems.

5. Try Vision Therapy

Vision therapy focuses on retraining the eyes, aiming to improve focus and eye movement.

6. Embrace the 20-20-20 Rule

Given the extensive screen time throughout the day, adopting a rule like the 20-20-20 rule can be beneficial. Simply put, every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break from your computer or phone screen and shift your focus to an object that is at least 20 feet away or farther. This exercise helps alleviate eye strain and fatigue.[^6]

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