Background: Children being evaluated for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) often have an eye exam as part of their evaluation. The symptoms of convergence insufficiency (CI) can make it difficult for a student to concentrate on extended reading and overlap with those of ADHD.
Methods: A retrospective review of 266 patients with CI presenting to an academic pediatric ophthalmology practice was performed. All patients included were diagnosed with CI by one author (DBG) and evaluated for the diagnosis of ADHD. A computerized review was also performed looking at the converse incidence of CI in patients carrying the diagnosis of ADHD.
Results: We reviewed 266 charts of patients with CI. Twenty-six patients (9.8%) were diagnosed with ADHD at some time in their clinical course. Of the patients with ADHD and CI, 20 (76.9%) were on medication for ADHD at the time of diagnosis for CI while 6 (23.1%) were either not on medication or the medication was discontinued several months before the diagnosis of CI. The review of computer records showed a 15.9% incidence of CI in the ADHD population.
Conclusion: We report an apparent three-fold greater incidence of ADHD among patients with CI when compared with the incidence of ADHD in the general US population (1.8-3.3%). We also note a seeming three-fold greater incidence of CI in the ADHD population. This may simply represent an association and not be a causative relationship. Until further studies are performed, however, patients diagnosed with ADHD should be evaluated to identify the small subset that may have CI -- a condition that responds well to treatment at home.