Parkinson’s Disease is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system that affects motor skills. As many as 1 million people in the United States are living with Parkinson’s Disease and 60,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. Typical symptoms include tremors and rigidity, but there are other complications that are not as physically recognizable, including vision changes.
Patients with Parkinson’s Disease are unable to regulate their movements because their brains slowly stop producing the neurotransmitter, dopamine. The involuntary movements, or tremors, can also affect the eyes and cause blurred vision. Patients may find it difficult to keep focus or see things up close. Your doctor may be able to help by prescribing special corrective lenses. Retinal cells rely on dopamine to thrive, process and perceive color; because of this, patients with Parkinson’s may find it difficult to sense individual colors, or colors may seem dull.
Often times people with Parkinson’s either blink less frequently, or on the opposite of the spectrum, blink excessively, which may lead to involuntary closure of the eyelids or eyelid twitches called blepharospasm. These issues often cause patient’s eyes to become dry and irritated. Many medications used to help Parkinson’s can also affect vision and cause blurriness or dry eyes. If you are suffering from dry eyes and blurred vision, your doctor may be able to give you some helpful tips to help keep your eyes lubricated, and/or prescribe drops or ointment to help.
Vision changes and visual problems are also a common part of aging and may not all be connected in relation to Parkinson’s Disease. Therefore, it is also important not to assume that any vision changes in a patient with Parkinson’s are due to the disease, as they could be signs of other health issues. This is why it is important to always keep up with your ocular health by getting annual comprehensive eye exams.