Parkinson’s disease: Changes in your eyesight could be early signs to spot
Parkinson's: What is it and what are the symptoms?
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Parkinson’s disease is a progressive condition whereby the signals communicated between the brain and nervous system are disrupted. This can cause a number of impairments, many of which relate to movement. There are many early symptoms not pertaining to movement however, including those found in your eyes and vision.
Just as the eye is a window into the body, the visual system is a window into brain disorders including Parkinson’s disease.
Although Parkinson’s disease is primarily considered a motor disorder, several studies have shown non-motor symptoms are common across all stages of the disease.
However, these symptoms are often undiagnosed because patients are unaware of the link to the disease and, as a result, they may be under-treated.
A study published in the journal Radiology looked at how the disease may present itself as early symptoms in the eyes.
The study found that Parkinson’s disease is associated with changes in the visual system, a feature that can be detected earlier than the most common symptoms of the disease.
Researchers suggest it could be used as a biomarker to follow disease progression.
The study involved 20 patients who had been newly diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
The aim of the study was to assess changes in the visual system associated with the disease.
Participants underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, which researchers used to look at changes in the white and grey matters, as well as ophthalmologic examinations.
They found that patients presented significant changes in the brain structures associated with the visual system, such as changes in the optic radiations, decreased white matter volume and reduced volume of the optic chiasm.
Early eye symptoms warning of Parkinson’s disease may include:
- Difficulty moving the eyes
- Blurred vision
- Double vision
- Dry eyes
- Involuntary closure of the eyelids
- Problems with low light levels
- Colour vision
- Spatial awareness.
The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research says Parkinson’s disease symptoms are different for different people.
“Some are hard for even doctors to detect. Others are obvious even to an untrained eye,” reads the organisation’s website.
It says that vision changes which can occur include dry eyes, double vision and trouble reading.
Parkinson’s UK says: “People with Parkinson’s often experience problems with their eyes and eyesight as a result. But eye problems may also be unrelated to your Parkinson’s.”
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