Research finds vision problems common in patients with Parkinson’s disease
Vision and eye problems like blurry vision, dry eyes, trouble with depth perception, and problems adjusting to rapid changes in light are more common in people with Parkinson's disease than in people without the disorder, according to a new study published in the journal Neurology.
The study involved 848 people with Parkinson's who had symptoms for an average of seven years. They were compared to 250 people without the disease. Both groups had an average age of 70.
Participants completed a questionnaire about vision and eye problems. For each problem described, such as "I have a burning sensation or gritty feeling in my eyes" and "Lines that should be straight appear to be wavy or blurred," participants were asked to choose from a range of four responses. A response of "never have symptoms" was worth one point. A response of "daily symptoms" was worth four points. There were 16 such questions as well as one question about visual hallucinations that required a yes or no response, with yes being worth one point, for a total possible score of 51 points.
Participants were also asked if eye problems interfered with their daily activities such as driving a car, working on a computer, walking, or personal care.
Researchers found that 82 percent of people with Parkinson's reported one or more eye problems compared to 48 percent of people without the disease. The average score on the questionnaire was 10 points for people with Parkinson's compared to two points for people without the disease. Researchers also found that eye problems interfered with daily life for 68 percent of people with Parkinson's compared to 35 percent of people without the disease.
A limitation of the study was that since people were asked if they would like to participate in the study, it is possible that people with vision problems were more likely to respond, possibly resulting in an overestimation of eye problems.
“It is especially important for people with Parkinson's to have the best vision possible because it can help compensate for movement problems caused by the disease, and help reduce the risk of falls,” said Carlijn Borm, MD, study author, in a statement. “Our study found not only that people with Parkinson's disease had eye problems that go beyond the aging process, we also found those problems may interfere with their daily lives. Yet a majority of eye problems are treatable, so it's important that people with Parkinson's be screened and treated if possible.”