A retinal examination of the eyes can help distinguish between diagnoses of autism and hyperactivity, which are often confused.
Scientists still have some difficulty diagnosing autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which are often confused. A new study published in Frontiers of Neuroscience concluded that there are bioindicators that can facilitate diagnoses with an eye exam.
ADHD is the more common of the two conditions and affects between 5% and 8% of children, mainly boys, and is characterized by inattention, disorganization and impulsiveness. Autism, on the other hand, affects about 1% of the population, being much more difficult to diagnose due to the diversity of symptoms and severity depending on the person.
Although they are very different disorders, some of their symptoms are identical, which sometimes leads to misdiagnoses. New research has found biological indicators in the retina eyes that can help in this mission.
The team discovered a specific electroretinogram (ERG) signal that can be used to distinguish ADHD and autism cases from control cases. ERG is a standardized diagnostic used by opticians since the 1940s to identify retinal disorders, reveals the New Atlas.
The study applied this test to 55 people diagnosed with autism, 15 diagnosed with ADHD and 156 other people who make up the control group, aged 3 to 27. Several differences were found — people with autism had ERG energy levels below the control group, while ADHD patients had levels above.
“Retinal signals are generated by specific nerves and if we can identify those differences and locate the specific pathways that use different chemical signals that are also used in the brain, then we can see the distinct differences in children with ADHD or autism or potentially other neurodevelopmental conditions,” concludes researcher Paul Constable.