Scientists detect signs of ADHD, autism from eyes

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Recent findings from Flinders University suggest that the eyes could offer vital clues in diagnosing neurodevelopmental disorders like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Through a non-invasive test that measures the retina’s response to light, researchers are uncovering potential biomarkers that could streamline the diagnosis process for these conditions, which are the most prevalent neurodevelopmental disorders diagnosed during childhood.

Diagnosing ADHD and ASD can be a complex and drawn-out process, often because these disorders share many behavioral traits. This overlap can lead to delays and challenges in obtaining a precise diagnosis.

However, the innovative use of the electroretinogram (ERG), a diagnostic tool traditionally used in ophthalmology, is showing promising results in differentiating these disorders more clearly.

The study employed the ERG to measure how the retina, which is essentially an accessible part of the brain, responds to light stimuli.

The findings were striking: children with ADHD exhibited higher overall ERG energy levels, whereas those with ASD showed lower energy levels. This difference in retinal response suggests that each disorder may impact the nervous system in distinct ways.

The significance of these findings lies in the retinal signals themselves, which are produced by specific nerve activities that mirror those in the brain.

By identifying how these signals differ in children with ADHD and ASD, researchers believe it could lead to not only quicker and more accurate diagnoses but also more targeted treatments tailored to the unique neurophysiological profiles of each disorder.

This research is based on preliminary data, yet it offers a hopeful glimpse into future possibilities for diagnosing and treating neurodevelopmental conditions.

It underscores the potential of using retinal scans as a diagnostic tool, which could one day facilitate the early identification and intervention for children with these disorders.

Globally, according to the World Health Organization, one in 100 children has ASD, and 5 to 8 percent of children are diagnosed with ADHD.

These conditions are characterized distinctly: ADHD often involves hyperactivity, inattentiveness, and impulsivity, whereas ASD affects how individuals behave, communicate, and learn, often differing significantly from typical developmental patterns.

Understanding and differentiating these conditions is crucial for effective management and support. The work being done by researchers like Dr. Paul Constable and his team at Flinders University is paving the way for potentially transformative changes in how society approaches neurodevelopmental disorders.

Their study, published in Frontiers in Neuroscience, not only adds a valuable tool to the diagnostic process but also enhances our understanding of the neurological underpinnings of ADHD and ASD.

This research could lead to better-targeted therapies, ultimately improving the quality of life for affected individuals and their families.

For more information about ADHD, please see recent studies about Nutrition’s role in managing ADHD: what you need to know and results showing that Food additives and ADHD: what parents should know.

If you care about ADHD, please read studies about 5 signs you have ADHD, not laziness, and new drug to reduce daydreaming, fatigue, and brain sluggishness in ADHD.

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