Researchers at the University of Flinders, South Australia, have created a state-of-the-art eye scanning system that could detect autism faster in children than existing possibilities. The new eye scan, which uses a hand-held device, operates by scanning for a pattern of subtle electrical signals in the retina, that is different in children on the spectrum of autism.
The tool, which is being studied as to whether it could diagnose other disorders, has been tested on one hundred and eighty people between the ages of five and twenty-one, with or without autism.
“Researchers at the University of Flinders, South Australia, have created a state-of-the-art eye scanning system that could detect autism.“
Results showed that when examined with the electroretinogram, people with autism had decreased b-waves in response to light. The study was published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.
Senior lecturer at the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, Flinders University, Dr Paul Constable, stated: “The retina is an extension of the brain, made of neural tissue and connected to the brain by the optic nerve, so it was an ideal place to look. The test is a quick, nonintrusive eye scan using a hand-held device and we anticipate it will be equally effective on younger children. Very early diagnosis means not only can children receive important interventions, but families are empowered to get the necessary supports in place, come to terms with the diagnosis, and make informed decisions. Now we have found a likely candidate biomarker for autism, the next stage is to look at young children, even infants, as the earlier we can get to intervention stages the better.”