University of Leicester announce new study into vision problems in ME/CFS

December 9, 2011

From the Health Canal website, 8 December 2012.

Researchers from the University of Leicester have launched a new study into vision problems suffered by patients with Myalgic Encephalopathy (ME) or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). People who suffer from ME/CFS typically experience a range of symptoms which may include extreme tiredness, painful joints, headaches and digestive problems.

The team from the University of Leicester's School of Psychology is undertaking the first study to look in-depth at visual issues in ME/CFS patients. The researchers hope that collecting medical evidence of such symptoms could aid in the diagnosis and treatment of ME/CFS.

There is little consensus on the cause of ME/CFS or on how to treat patients with the condition. Although vision problems are widely reported by ME/CFS sufferers, research in this area is scarce and little formal evidence of such issues has been documented.

The researchers are actively looking to recruit participants to take part in the study.

Steve Badham, who is running the study, said: “This project provides us with an excellent opportunity to study the link between vision and ME/CFS. Understanding this relationship will allow us to better differentiate between ME/CFS and other conditions, and to learn more about the symptoms that patients are suffering from.”

The University of Leicester team hopes to investigate a range of basic visual problems commonly reported by ME/CFS sufferers, such as hypersensitivity to light and difficulties focussing on and tracking objects.

ME/CFS affects around 250,000 people in the UK alone. The main symptom is persistent fatigue and tiredness that doesn't go away with rest and has no obvious cause. Sufferers may also experience other symptoms and can find themselves unable to work or take part in activities. Gathering hard evidence of the symptoms and effects of ME/CFS can aid in treatment and diagnosis and help raise the profile of this debilitating illness.

The diagnosis of ME/CFS has been a controversial one for many years, because the cause of the condition is currently unknown. Suggested treatments for ME/CFS include psychological interventions such as behavioural therapy, and medication such as painkillers and low dose antidepressants. There is no known cure for ME/CFS.

The researchers are looking for anyone with a medical diagnosis of ME or CFS to get in touch if they wish to help out with the study. Participants will take part in the study at the University, involving visual tests and tasks on a computer. You can contact Steve Badham by email ( or telephone (0116 229 7081) for more information about volunteering. Even if you don’t think you suffer from a vision problem, you may still be eligible to take part.

This study is being co-funded by ME Research UK and the Irish ME Trust.

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