Retinal activity in autism, ADHD and Duchenne muscular dystrophy

Research details

  • Type of funding: Fight for Sight / Thomas Pocklington Trust Small Grant Award
  • Grant Holder: Dr Omar Mahroo
  • Institute: Moorfields Eye Hospital
  • Region: London
  • Start date: November 2016
  • End Date: April 2018
  • Priority: Early detection
  • Eye Category: Neuro-ophthalmology


People with conditions that affect the brain, movement and mental health often have some visual impairment. For many reasons, they can be neglected in terms of getting a clinical assessment. Other aspects of the condition might be more obvious and it’s harder to assess vision in some people. The problem may also not be as easy to recognise as e.g. one with the lens. It may be a subtle problem of communication between nerve cells in the retina or brain and may not show up on imaging.

In this project, Dr Mahroo and team are studying people with either attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism or Duchenne muscular dystrophy. They will measure electrical activity in the retina in response to different visual tasks via electrodes placed around the eye. The electrodes pick up electrical activity in a similar way to ECG recordings of the heart.

The aim is to find out whether there are any problems with retinal signals and if so, how common they are in different conditions. The results could make it easier to get people referred for treatment and may also help us to better understand the brain, as the retina has some of the same wiring.