17 March 2020

MINNEAPOLIS – Vision and eye problems like blurry vision, dry eyes, trouble with depth perception, and problems adjusting to rapid changes in light are much more common in people with Parkinson’s disease than in people without the disorder, according to a study published in the February 26, 2020, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. The study also found such problems can influence a person’s daily activities.

“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 study author Carlijn D.J.M. Borm, M.D., of Radboud University Medical Centre in Nijmegen, The Netherlands. “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.”

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% of people with Parkinson’s reported one or more eye problems compared to 48% 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% of people with Parkinson’s compared to 35% of people without the disease.

“Eye problems make it more difficult for people with Parkinson’s to physically navigate daily life, for example we found that half of study participants experienced problems with reading, and 33% had eye problems that interfered with driving a car,” said Borm. “People with Parkinson’s who express that they have eye problems should be referred to a specialist for further evaluation. For those who do not express such problems, using a questionnaire to screen for problems that may otherwise be missed might allow for recognition, timely treatment, and improving the quality of life.”

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.

The study was supported by the Stichting Parkinson Fonds.
 

Related news items


Marianne Boenink has been appointed professor in Ethics of Healthcare

26 November 2020

Health scientist and philosopher Marianne Boenink has been appointed professor in Ethics of Healthcare at the Radboud University/ Radboudumc, as of 1 August 2020.

read more

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on (future) parents and their babies

26 November 2020

While the corona crisis affects all of us, people who have just started a family or are trying to, are doing this in a sub-optimal situation. Researchers are trying to find out how the ongoing crisis is affecting them.

read more

COVID-19 and the kidney overview of papers

26 November 2020

Within the research theme Renal Disorders several studies were initiated to contribute to the knowledge on COVID-19. Check out our overview of the papers that originated from these studies.

read more

Hydroxychloroquine against malaria appears to block 'trained immunity'

25 November 2020

Raphaël Duivenvoorden and colleagues have discovered an as yet unknown effect of hydroxychloroquine, which are published in Cell Reports Medicine.

read more

NWO XS awarded to identify X inactivation proteins

24 November 2020

NWO XS awarded to the lab of Hendrik Marks for identification of proteins that inactivate the female X chromosome.

read more

Multiple prizes for nephrological researchers

24 November 2020

A rain of prizes was awarded to colleagues from the research theme Renal Disorders during the combined Dutch Nephrology Days and Scientific Fall symposium of the Dutch Federation for Nephrology (NFN).

read more