People living with Parkinson’s disease often experience vision problems. However, these problems are not always related to Parkinson’s disease.
Difficulty moving the eyes
Parkinson’s disease affects all movements, particularly those that are usually automatic. Eye movements are no exception. Your muscles move more slowly, causing delayed eye movement when watching an object in motion, for example. Your eye movement may also become jerkier.
The delay can affect your ability to clearly see objects that move very quickly, such as cars. If you are experiencing this problem, you should talk to your doctor about it and be vigilant in situations where vision delays could prove dangerous.
Blurred vision may be related to difficulty moving the eyes, or it could be a side-effect of antiparkinsonian medications like anticholinergics. Talk to your neurologist about adjusting your dose.
If you wear glasses, your optometrist can also help improve your vision by adjusting the strength of your lenses.
Double vision is when you see two images of the same object. These images may be superimposed or next to each other. This can occur when you are watching something in motion and your eyes aren’t moving at the same speed.
Lack of eye coordination and eye muscle fatigue are often the cause of double vision.
People living with Parkinson’s disease usually blink less. Blinking normally removes dust and dirt from the eyes. When you blink less, debris can build up, causing your eyes to feel dry and sore. Artificial tears can be used to relieve the dryness.
Involuntary blinking or twitching
Sometimes, your eyelids may move involuntarily (blepharospasm). They may close completely, twitch, or you may experience difficulty keeping them open. These spasms are particularly common when talking.
Blepharospasms can be treated by simply rubbing your eyes, adjusting your dose of levodopa, or by botulinum toxin (Botox) injection in severe cases.
Difficulty seeing in the dark
In the dark, you may have more difficulty seeing objects, shapes, colours and small print clearly.
Difficulty seeing colours
Some people living with Parkinson’s disease have difficulty distinguishing between colours, particularly blue and green. Adjusting your medication may resolve the difficulty.
Vision problems can have many different causes. They may be related to the degeneration of the neurons responsible for eye movement, eye muscle rigidity, or antiparkinsonian medication.
Vision problems can also be unrelated to Parkinson’s disease. They may be caused by other diseases or by aging.
Talk to your family doctor or neurologist about any vision changes at your next appointment. They will most likely refer you to an eye specialist:
Occupational therapists may also be able to help you manage your vision problems at home and at work by suggesting strategies, equipment and ways to adapt your environment.
It’s a good idea to get your eyes checked by an optometrist at least once a year, even if you don’t have any particular vision problems.
Tell the optometrist that you have Parkinson’s disease so that they know to watch out for signs of vision problems that are common among those living with the disorder.
As Parkinson’s disease progresses, some people find that their posture changes dramatically. They often tend to lean farther forward, which can make wearing glasses difficult. You may end up peering over your glasses. Talk to you optometrist about it. They will be able to adjust your frames to account for your posture.
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