Why aren’t my ADD/ADHD meds helping me read better?
Some of the symptoms of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorders in adults and children are related to not being able to concentrate or attend to tasks especially ones associated to reading or working up close, difficulty following instructions and having problems remembering things. From extensive research and clinical experience among optometrists who are committed to working with children and adults with challenges in these areas, a link can be found between all of these symptoms to problems in a successful and efficient functioning visual system.
A perfect example of this is the condition known as Convergence Insufficiency (CI). If a person suffers from CI they will find it hard to coordinate both eyes at near and cannot change their focus from near to far very quickly. As a result they would find they would lose their place in a text quite easily and would even skip lines while reading. They would often have to go back to re-read lines as they were working so hard to see what is written there, decoding and comprehension takes a back seat. Procrastination and avoidance of work is a result of these subtle yet frustrating symptoms of CI. Sounds like this can easily be mistaken as a person being too lazy to read or having a distractible personality, am i right?
Vision therapy is a treatment used to treat CI and other visual problems. Techniques are used to retrain the eyes and brain to make the visual system more smooth, fast and efficient. People who recover from CI have been known to eventually become avid readers because they can finally enjoy the stories that were once frustrating to look at. With visual difficulties out of the way, near attention tasks and visual memory storage becomes more effortless.
So how can you figure out if you or someone you know is perhaps suffering from a treatable visual condition rather than needs to be medicated for ADD or ADHD? Simply go see your optometrist! Preferably one who is familiar with how to treat convergence insufficiency using vision therapy techniques and technology and one who is experienced in a behavioural approach to Optometry.
Reference: Stanley A. Appelbaum, OD FCOVD. First published in Bottom Line Health, January 2011