ADHD and ASD: What the eyes could reveal

ADHD and ASD: What the eyes could reveal

21/06/2022

It’s often said that ‘the eyes tell it all’, but no matter what their outward expression, the eyes may also be able to signal neurodevelopmental disorders such as ASD and ADHD according to new research from Flinders University and the University of South Australia.

In the first study of its kind, researchers found that recordings from the retina could identify distinct signals for both Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) providing a potential biomarker for each condition.

Using the ‘electroretinogram’ (ERG) — a diagnostic test that measures the electrical activity of the retina in response to a light stimulus — researchers found that children with ADHD showed higher overall ERG energy, whereas children with ASD showed less ERG energy.

Research optometrist at Flinders University, Dr Paul Constable, says the preliminary findings indicate promising results for improved diagnoses and treatments in the future.

“ASD and ADHD are the most common neurodevelopmental disorders diagnosed in childhood. But as they often share similar traits, making diagnoses for both conditions can be lengthy and complicated,” Dr Constable says.

“Our research aims to improve this. By exploring how signals in the retina react to light stimuli, we hope to develop more accurate and earlier diagnoses for different neurodevelopmental conditions.

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