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Eye Health: Research shows optometrists
may play a vital role in detecting ADHD

By Dr. Dawn Stratton
KyForward columnist

I recently read some new research that is very interesting and is of particular interest to parents of children who have been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. Based on new research from Israel, optometrists may have a vital role to play in detecting the commonly diagnosed behavioral disorder.

The new study from Tel Aviv University found strong evidence that involuntary eye movement may be an indicator of ADHD. Researchers used an eye-tracking system to monitor the eye movements of two groups of adults in conjunction with an ADHD diagnostic test called the Test of the Variables of Attention.

One group of participants, who had previously been diagnosed with ADHD, took the test twice: once without medication and again when under the influence of methylphenidate, a drug commonly used to control symptoms of ADHD. A second group of adults, not diagnosed with ADHD, served as the control group.

The results found not only a direct correlation between ADHD and the inability to control eye movement in the anticipation of visual stimuli, but researchers also noted the effectiveness of ADHD medication. They noticed improved performance by ADHD patients taking methylphenidate, which suppressed the involuntary eye movement to the average level of the control group.

Each year, ADHD affects more than 4 percent of American adults and 9 percent of American children age 13 to 18. The National Institute of Mental Health also notes the average age of onset is 7 years old.

The control of eye movements is foundational for everything an individual might do in life and if compromised, it can lead to reduced ability and function. Eye movements and control are among the foundational processes evaluated in every eye exam, particularly in all ages where attention issues may be present. I encourage parents of children with suspected attention disorders to have their children undergo a comprehensive eye examination by an optometrist in order to determine the extent that vision might play in the overall process.


Dr. Dawn Stratton, O.D., is the founder of Stratton Eyes. She is a graduate of Illinois College of Optometry in Chicago and earned her Doctor of Optometry in 1994. Based in Lexington, Dr. Stratton is a member of American Optometric Association, the Kentucky Optometric Association, the National Association of Professional Women and the Fellowship of Christian Optometrists. She also provides eye exams for patients at the Hope Center, Room at the Inn and The Nest. Visit Stratton-Eyes.com for more information or call 859-245-2020 or email office@strattoneyes.com. You can also find the office on Facebook and on Twitter @StrattonEyes.

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