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A Simple Eye Test Could Help with ADHD and Autism Diagnosis

beautiful eye

A Simple Eye Test Could Help with ADHD and Autism Diagnosis


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are children’s two most common neurodevelopment disorders.

Because they share many similarities, diagnosing these conditions can be challenging for experts. They have to go through a lengthy and complicated process to determine if what the child has is ADHD or ASD.

Although they share many similarities, they require different interventions, so a clear diagnosis is crucial. That has been the challenge for years. But it seems light has come upon the subject.

New research shows that retina recordings can identify distinct signals that differentiate ADHD from ASD, potentially providing a biomarker for each disorder.


The Research

In the first study of its kind, researchers from the University of South Australia used electroretinogram (ERG) to record distinct retina signals for both ADHD and ASD. ERG is a diagnostic test that measures the electrical response of the light-sensitive cells in your eyes.

The research discovered that children with ADHD had higher levels of overall ERG energy, while those with ASD had lower ERG energy.

This is a potential crystal-clear biomarker for both conditions, and there’s hope that children will be able to get diagnosed early enough for appropriate treatment to commence.

The researchers affirmed that they conducted the study for the sole purpose of simplifying the complex ADHD and ASD diagnosis.

“By exploring how signals in the retina react to light stimulus, we hope to develop more accurate and earlier diagnoses for different neurodevelopmental conditions,” said Dr. Paul Constable, research optometrist. He also noted that these preliminary findings show great promise for improved diagnoses and treatments in the future.


The Eyes Indeed Could Reveal All

“The eyes tell it all.” This is a common phrase, but who could have known it would also ring true in the world of ADHD and autism?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 1 in 100 children has autism, and about 5-8 in 100 have ADHD.

ADHD is characterized by hyperactivity, impulsive behaviors that are hard to control, and difficulty paying attention, which can contribute to low self-esteem and poor grades in school. Autism Spectrum Disorder impairs the ability to communicate and interact, potentially ruining the individual’s social life. Both are neurodevelopmental conditions, i.e., they occur during development but usually extend into adulthood.

Nevertheless, treatments and lifestyle methods can help ADHD and autistic kids attain a higher quality of life regardless.

But ultimately, it’s a breakthrough—if not a mystery—how the eyes can help us understand the brain. This can open up a world of opportunities for not only diagnosing ADHD and ASD but also treating them and several other neurological conditions.

Satu H. Woodland, PMHCNS-BC, APRN Satu H. Woodland, PMHCNS-BC, APRN Satu Woodland is owner and clinician of Hope Mental Health, an integrative mental health practice located at Bown Crossing in Boise, Idaho. She sees children, adolescents, and adults.  Ms. Woodland with her background in nursing, prefers a holistic and integrative approach to mental health care that addresses the mind and body together. While Ms. Woodland provides medication management services in all her patients, she believes in long-lasting solutions that include a number of psychotherapies, namely cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure and response prevention therapy, attention to lifestyle, evidenced based alternative psychiatric care and spirituality. If you’d like to gain control over your mental health issues, call Hope Mental Health at 208-918-0958, or use the online scheduling tool to set up an initial consultation.

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