Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder – one of the most misdiagnosed conditions that leads to many children taking Ritalin (methylphenidate) even though they don’t need it – can now be identified objectively and in a foolproof way.
Researchers at Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine and colleagues at Sheba Medical Center and the University of Haifa have found that involuntary eye movements accurately reflect the presence of ADHD.
Until this discovery, there have been no reliable physiological markers to diagnose ADHD. Parents would bring in their children and ask for a prescription for Ritalin, which in some cases improves concentration and class performance and grades even in children who do not suffer from ADHD.
Doctors generally diagnose the disorder by recording a medical and social history of the patient and the family, discussing possible symptoms and observing the patient’s behavior. As a result, too many children get the drug, and there is even illegal trade in prescriptions.
An incorrect evaluation can lead to over-medication with Ritalin, which has doctors, pharmacists and parents concerned.
A report on the objective tool to accurately diagnose ADHD has just been published in the journal Vision Research.
Dr. Moshe Fried, Dr. Anna Sterkin and Prof. Uri Polat of TAU; Dr. Tamara Wygnanski- Jaffe, Dr. Eteri Tsitsiashvili, Dr. Tamir Epstein of Sheba’s Goldschleger Eye Research Institute; and Dr.Yoram S. Bonneh of Haifa developed the eye-tracking system. They studied two groups of 22 adults to monitor their involuntary eye movements and gave them an ADHD diagnostic computer test called the Test of Variables of Attention. The exercise, which lasted 22 minutes, was repeated twice by each participant.