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Can diagnosing ADHD be as simple as an eye test?

by Megan Dlugokinski

One of the hardest parts about having adhd seems to be getting the diagnosis. Many people are now getting diagnosed in later adulthood. This comes as a mixed blessing. Those of us who were diagnosed later in life have a tendency to wonder how our life might have been different if we had only known sooner. Researchers are finally looking for a solution to this dilemma.

The most recent research shows that adhd is not more prevalent in boys than girls. Earlier research appeared to show otherwise, but the research was done mostly on hyperactive boys, thus skewing the results. Diagnosing girls without hyperactivity has been more of a problem. Girls have a tendency to blend in until life gets totally overwhelming and a reason for their problems is finally sought. If diagnosis could be easier and more definitive than the results obtained from a series of questionnaires and a doctors analysis of the answers, we could get proper and timely treatment for those, and only those, who need it.

Perhaps it is easier. UK Scientists at Brunel University have announced, after three years of research, that adhd in preschool children can be diagnosed by a simple eye test. Researchers Giorgos Pavlidis and Panagiotis Samaras wanted to see whether there was a significant correlation between the symptoms and the eye movements of children aged four to six. Half of the test subjects were already diagnosed prior to testing. They used a fully automated system to measure and analyze the results of the four eye movement tasks lasting 30 seconds each.

The results showed that the test was accurate in detecting 93.1% of the preschoolers. The differences between the children who had symptoms and the ones who didn’t were pretty substantial. Those without adhd could follow the light spot for 30 seconds to five minutes, while those with it could only follow it for about three to five seconds.

It has already been common knowledge that preschoolers have a short attention span, especially those of us who have had preschoolers. A few seconds versus up to five minutes is like night and day. If parents can find out definitively at a much earlier age if their child has adhd, it can make a world of difference in how the child interacts with their world and their developing self esteem.

The test is totally automated, inexpensive and can be completed in less than 10 minutes. So far this is the most promising diagnostic tool in the adhd field to date. Much more research has to be done to determine if it is all that it appears to be.




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