Eye signals could help detect neurological disorders: Aussie study

CANBERRA, June 18 (Xinhua/APP): Recordings of the eye could be used to detect neurodevelopmental disorders, an Australian research has found.

In a world-first study published on Friday, researchers from the University of South Australia (UniSA) and Flinders University revealed that recordings of the retina can detect signals for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

They found that children with ADHD had higher energy on an electroretinogram (ERG), a test that measures activity of the retina in response to light stimulus, and those with ASD lower energy, indicating a potential biomarker for each condition.

“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,” Paul Constable, a research optometrist at Flinders University, said in a media release.

“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.”

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 1 percent of children have ASD and between 5 and 8 percent will develop ADHD, which is characterized by inability to pay attention and difficulty controlling impulses.

In addition to those two disorders, co-researcher Fernando Marmolejo-Ramos from UniSA said the research has the potential to detect other neurological conditions.

“Ultimately, we’re looking at how the eyes can help us understand the brain,” he said.

“While further research is needed to establish abnormalities in retinal signals that are specific to these and other neurodevelopmental disorders, what we’ve observed so far shows that we are on the precipice of something amazing.”

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