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Research suggests visual stress could be a symptom of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

People suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) could experience higher levels of visual stress than those without the condition, according to a team led by Dr Claire Hutchinson from the Department of Neuroscience, Psychology and Behaviour.

CFS, also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), is a condition that causes persistent exhaustion that affects everyday life and doesn't go away with sleep or rest. Diagnosis of the condition is difficult as its symptoms are similar to other illnesses.

The team has examined patients with and without CFS and has found that those suffering from the condition are more vulnerable to pattern-related visual stress, which causes discomfort and exhaustion when viewing repetitive striped patterns, such as when reading text.

The results of the study, which is published in the journal Perception, could help in the diagnosis of CFS, as the findings suggest that there are visual system abnormalities in people with ME/CFS that may represent an identifiable and easily measurable behavioural marker of the condition.

The work was funded by ME Research UK who provided funding for a 1-year MPhil studentship, awarded to Rachel Wilson, who was supervised by Drs Claire Hutchinson and Kevin Paterson.

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