ADHD, Eyeglasses, and Stigma: Part 3

ADHD eyeglasses

Part 2 here. 

Vision: A Function of The Brain

As Well As The Eye

Consider this fact: Vision is only partly a function of the eye.

Yes, the eye receives sensory input in the form of light hitting the retina.  But those light patterns are then converted into electrical signals, which travel along brain pathways to a visual processing center. That’s where your brain tells you what you’ve seen and makes sense of it. Or doesn’t.

Here is a brief video explaining how vision works.

For some people, no set of eyeglasses will help to correctly process all that they are seeing. For example, some individuals with ADHD might see the words on the page perfectly, but they do not remember their meaning or how to place them in context. They might see a car traveling in the oncoming lane, but they fail to accurately process its speed and whether they have time to turn left in front of it. They might know their spouse is unhappy, but they don’t fully take in the facial expression.

ADHD Eyeglasses for the Brain

The medications that work to mitigate ADHD symptoms, by way of helpful metaphor, are sometimes called “Eyeglasses for the Brain.” The idea is this: Just as eyeglasses do not change our personality, neither do the medications used to treat ADHD.

Other sensory challenges can arise with ADHD, too. The brain signals relating to hearing, touch, taste, and smell—even the respiratory and cardiovascular systems—can also become “lost in translation” on the journey to the brain centers that process them.

ADHD eyeglasses

If you have trouble grasping this concept, you’re not alone. Many physicians don’t understand it, either. Which might account for why they fail to see untreated ADHD at the foundation of so many conditions presenting in their treatment offices: obesity, restless legs syndrome, sleep apnea, diabetes, hearing disorders, and so forth.

In Part 4: “Seeing” ADHD—Or Being Blind to It

2 thoughts on “ADHD, Eyeglasses, and Stigma: Part 3”

  1. Once again you have hit the nail on the head for me. All my life I have had problems with seeing words for what they really are. My grown children often laugh at me because I sometimes see a sign over a building and read it incorrectly. Not because I can’t read but because my brain for some reason see’s something other than what it really says. Once we have a laugh about it and they correct me as to what it really says and I take a second look I see it correctly. It sometimes takes me a few times looking at it before I see it for what it really is. When I try to explain it to people they rarely understand. Reading has always been a real challenge for me because I read something but my brain just doesn’t process what I read the same way someone without ADHD’s brain does. And without my medication I am unable to read and comprehend any thing at all.
    Thank you once again for helping me to understand what has been going on in my ADHD brain for years.

    1. Thank you, Margaret, for letting me know that this has meaning for you.

      It’s why I do what I do!

      My husband used to do the same thing. We’d be driving down the street, and he’d laugh and say, “I thought that sign said Bough-Nuts but it Dough-Nuts. haha.” Dumb example, but you get the point.

      I realize now that he’s done that less and less in recent years. Connections must be forming in that prodigious noggin of his.


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