Eyes: pain, sensitivity and focus

The current edition of British Journal of Ophthalmology’s ‘online first’ carries an interesting short report from Dr Claire Hutchinson’s Vision and Language Research Group at the University of Leicester. The researchers describe using the new DePaul Symptom Questionnaire to quantify the vision-related symptoms (eye pain, sensitivity to bright lights, unable to focus vision and/or attention, and loss of depth perception) in their ME/CFS patients. All 59 patients reported having no history of eye disease, yet 92% had some degree of sensitivity to bright lights; 88% were unable to focus vision and/or attention; and 86% experienced eye pain. Each of these symptoms was severe or very severe in more than 30% of the patients. Fewer people reported loss of depth perception, but this symptom was still present in around 60% of the group.

The researchers’ aim is to increase awareness of the importance of vision-related symptoms in ME/CFS among professionals, including ophthalmologists. As they point out, their report “adds to an emerging body of evidence that vision-related symptoms represent a significant clinical feature”, that might be useful for diagnosis, yet these symptoms are not presently included in clinical guidelines.

This report is the third scientific study to emanate from a project funded by ME Research UK and the Irish ME Trust. In 2 robust scientific papers, the group at University of Leicester has shown, first, that ME/CFS patients perform worse than matched controls across 3 specific aspects of vision (see report); and, second, that eye movement dysfunction is a prominent feature (see report). The need now is for other researchers to confirm these findings in their own local populations, and for moves to begin to incorporate vision-related symptoms into clinical and diagnostic guidelines, such as the NICE Guideline in the UK.

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