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Study: Many kids misdiagnosed with ADHD

December 6, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Last year, 4.5 million kids in the United States were diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, more than seven percent of all kids in the country. But a new study shows more than a million of them may have been misdiagnosed, and the real solution lies in some vision revision. Once she starts reading, Katy Kluck can't stop. So her mom was puzzled when Katy started struggling with schoolwork.

"I couldn't really focus because there were so many questions on the page," said Katy.

"Once they heard that Katy could not focus, immediately they said well, she has an ADD problem," said Ann Kluck, Katy's mom.

Afraid of using meds, Ann Kluck did some research, which led her to an optometrist.

"One of the questions that we ask parents is to decide whether it's an organic attention problem or maybe more related to a vision problem," said Daniel Press, O.D., a development optometrist at Family Eyecare Associates.

Exams found Katy's eyes didn't work well together, the words moved and turned blurry.

She kicked-off eight months of vision therapy. It's a workout using computer gaming, training the brain to use both eyes together.

"One of the eyes only sees the red target, the other one only sees the blue target. So if you're going to do this well, you have to use both eyes well together," said Press.

Vision experts say 60 percent of kids labeled as problem learners actually suffer from undetected vision problems.

But some have doubts. The American Academy of Pediatrics says vision therapy may give parents and teachers a false sense of security that a child's problems are being addressed.

"I was always the kid who was falling behind in class," said Caroline Moore.

But after vision therapy, Moore said her grades "skyrocketed back up."

So did Katy's.

"It makes me feel good because I'm getting good grades," Katy said.

It's the kind of progress that both mom and patient are proud of.

Vision therapy isn't typically covered by vision insurance, but some major medical plans do cover this therapy. Six-months to a year of therapy sessions can range from $2,500 to $5,000.


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