Breakthrough eye test to diagnose mental health disorders

An eye test which can detect mental illness in patients is one step closer to clinical use
An eye test which can detect mental illness in patients is one step closer to clinical use
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A SIMPLE eye test which could help diagnose mental health disorders or spot them before they arise is a step closer to being available on the NHS.

The award-winning test developed by Aberdeen University scientists uses a specialised, ultrafast camera to track patterns in eye movement and early results suggest that it is nearly 100 per cent effective in detecting mental health disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression.

We hope that as many people as possible come along to the open meeting to hear about what were are doing and what they can do to help in our research

Professor David St Clair

People with conditions such as schizophrenia did not explore images as fully as those without as they would rest their gaze on certain points for longer, according to the original research published in 2012 in the scientific journal Biological Psychiatry.

The team now hopes to uncover whether the test will also work among people with a range of personality problems and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

The eye test could even have the potential to identify mental health problems before they arise, said Professor David St Clair, chair of mental health at Aberdeen University.

Prof St Clair said: “The aim of the test is to help clinicians arrive at a correct diagnosis sooner.

“Patients can then in turn receive appropriate treatment sooner, helping them to resume a more normal life.

“We believe the test may also have the potential to identify individuals who are at risk of developing mental health problems before they arise.

“This test was designed and developed here in Aberdeen and which is the only centre in the world that is developing this technology for clinical and diagnostic use.”

The general public have been invited to a meeting to find out more about the research and will have the opportunity to participate in this latest phase of development of the innovative test.

Prof St Clair added: “We hope that as many people as possible come along to this open meeting to hear about what we are doing and what can be done to help with this new phase of the research.

“We are extremely grateful to volunteers who make this investment today which may help to make tomorrow better for a great many people.”

Patients with psychiatric disorders and those with no mental health problems are needed for the study, which takes about two hours.

Volunteers must be between 18 and 60 years old.

The meeting will take place at Suttie Centre, Foresterhill, Aberdeen, on 2 November from 6:30pm.

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