Two sight loss charities are about to pay for research at the University of Leicester that may show a clear link between eye problems that often affect people with ME/CFS and the underlying pathology of the illness itself.
The charities – Fight for Sight and the Thomas Pocklington Trust – say the people with ME/CFS often suffer with intolerance to light and dry, itchy or painful eyes but little research has been done to understand exactly how and why the eyes are affected.
In a study to be led by Dr Claire Hutchinson and Dr Frank Proudlock, 50 volunteers who have been diagnosed with ME/CFS will be recruited for tests and matched with an equal number of healthy volunteers.
Checks will show how their pupils respond to light, how well they can focus at different distances, their clarity and depth of vision, how they perceive colour, the shape of the eyes and the condition of the photoreceptor cells at the back of the eyes.
Dr Dolores M Conroy, director of research at Fight for Sight, said: “It’s clear from patients’ self-reports that the visual problems they experience have a marked impact on their quality of life. They also represent distinct, quantifiable, clinical features that could significantly improve diagnosis, provide insights into underlying pathology and represent a candidate for treatment, thereby improving the everyday lives of patients.
“Fight for Sight is delighted to team up with Thomas Pocklington Trust to fund this important research project, results from which could contribute to visual symptoms being recognised as a key diagnostic feature of CFS.”
The amount of funding earmarked for the study has not been disclosed and no start date or contact for volunteer recruitment was given in a press release placed on the university's website last week.