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“Why do my eyes unfocus randomly?” Understanding ADHD and Eye Unfocusing

Julia Ovcharenko, CEO of Numo
January 30, 2024

Picture this: you're chilling out, probably scrolling through TikToks or dog memes, and then BAM! Your eyes go all indie and start unfocusing like they're in the middle of a dream sequence from a 90s music video. Or maybe you're deeply immersed in a fascinating chat with a friend, and out of the blue, your eyes unfocus as if you're bored (when you actually don't!!). 

These random unfocus moments can be quite odd, indeed. So, if you ever wondered the question of "why do my eyes unfocus randomly?" then this artilce is just for you! 

Put on your safety gear, and let us go!

[ADHD and random eye unfocusing] ADHD and random eye unfocusing

Our eyes naturally move around and observe things all around us. Some people can even focus with their eyes on command. However people with ADHD might find it harder to control these eye movements, which can cause sudden and random changes in eye focusing function.

So, let's start with a common question from the ADHD community, “Is being unable to unfocus the eyes on command an ADHD symptom?” The short answer is no; not being able to focus your eyes on something else is not a sign of ADHD. Better check all symptoms of ADHD across ages and genders with our guide.

Okay, you may ask, "Why do my eyes go out of focus when staring at the screen or my notes if my non-ADHD friends don't?”

Here's where things get interesting. Studies have shown a clear link between ADHD and eye unfocusing (accommodative dysfunction). [1] 

When someone has ADHD, the prefrontal cortex does not work properly. This is the part of the ADHD brain that manages focus and attention. Unluckily, this can have an effect on our visual system. How? That makes us lose focus or even have our eyes move independently. It's like our eyes are rebels, fighting norms of visual concentration.

A place for a disclaimer: Being diagnosed with ADHD does not automatically mean that you will have vision problems. Also, having trouble focusing on your eyes does not mean you have ADHD. 

[4 causes of random eye unfocusing in ADHD] 4 causes of random eye unfocusing in ADHD 

Eye muscle fatigue

Our eyes may choose to take a little break from focusing for various reasons. One common cause is eye muscle fatigue. Just as your biceps need a break after lifting weights (or lifting chip bags, no judgment here), your eye muscles need a time-out too, especially after long periods of intense focus or time in front of a screen. 

Having trouble focusing

Another cause could be a common one for ADHDers ... a lack of concentration. With ADHD, staying focused on one thing for an extended period of time can be pretty challenging. Our minds tend to wander and explore different thoughts, which may impact our visual focus. Our eyes say, "Hey, if your mind can wander, maybe we can too."

Sensory overload

Sensory overload is also a reason for our eyes not focusing randomly. When bombarded with overwhelming environmental stimuli, our brains can get overstimulated and overloaded. For a short time, our eyes lose their focus. They're trying to shield us from sensory overload by taking a quick breather.

Impulsivity 

Another important trait of ADHD is an impulsive tendency, which can make it hard to keep your attention on something, no matter how much you are trying to focus on it. They seem to be juggling attention between things without noticing, which makes our eyes tired. That's why some of you might feel your eyes are not focused, and you cannot make them do it.

[Tips to manage eyes unfocsing] Tips to manage sudden unfocused eyes in ADHD 

While random eye unfocusing can be a quirky side effect of ADHD, it is possible to deal with it and reduce its effects. Here are a few tips to help you stay on top of your visual game:

  • To avoid straining your eyes, take frequent breaks while working on tasks requiring strong visual attention. A quick blink or turning your attention away from a screen can help your eyes feel better. Try it out 😌
  • Set up a place where your senses are not overloaded, and nothing will bother you, so your eyes will get too tired to work. Finding ways to keep yourself as free of distractions as possible can greatly boost your ability to concentrate.
  • Try practicing mindfulness techniques! Meditation and deep breathing exercises can help you concentrate better and keep your eyes from unfocused or blank. You will feel that recharge if you close your eyes and relax all of your muscles, including the one in your eye. 
  • You also might ask, “Why do my eyes keep unfocusing even with glasses or even when they rest enough.” Hm.. Explore medication and therapy options. Talk to a medical professional about possible therapies or treatments that could help you deal with such so-called ADHD unfocus eyes.

[Conclusion] Conclusion

So, the next time your eyes venture into their own little world, know that it's just a natural part of the ADHD experience. We can learn to cope with this strange phenomenon with humor and self-compassion if we know what causes random eye unfocusing and how to grapple with it. 

Mindfulness techniques, eye breaks, and looking into the right treatment options can help us deal with this symptom better and keep going on our path to accepting our unique minds.

And remember, you're not alone in this adventurous visual journey. Embrace the quirks and celebrate how each of our minds works. Numo ADHD is right there with you. We have incredible things here - our squads and tribes. Feel free to ask any questions you have here, where all the hip people with ADHD talk about their stuff.

Stay curious, and stay awesome with Numo: first cringe free app for ADHDers!

Sources

Optometry and Vision Science. ADHD and Vision Problems in the National Survey of Children’...
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