Researchers have new evidence that a simple eye test could help diagnose inherited mental health conditions such as bipolar disorder (manic depression).

Monash University neuroscientist Dr Steven Miller led a national team of researchers to test the binocular rivalry rates of 348 sets of twins — 128 of which were identical.

The test measured the twins’ binocular rivalry — the ‘switching’ of their visual perception from one image to the next, when two dissimilar images were simultaneously presented, one to each eye.

Dr Miller’s study of twins showed that switching rates were very similar between each set of identical twins, yet were substantially less so for non-identical twins, suggesting a genetic contribution to an individual’s switching rate.

“By studying such a large group of identical and non-identical twins we can determine the likelihood of genetics being responsible for certain biological traits,” Dr Miller said.

Dr Miller said testing of binocular rivalry was important because it could be an indication of a person’s mental health, based on his previous study of switching rates in patients with bipolar disorder.

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