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Serious Eye Problems Common in People With Parkinson's

WEDNESDAY, March 11, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- People with Parkinson's disease often have eye problems, which can interfere with their daily activities and increase their risk for falls, researchers say.

"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," according to the author of a new study, Dr. Carlijn Borm of Radboud University Medical Center in Nijmegen, the Netherlands.

The study included 848 people with Parkinson's who had symptoms for an average seven years, and 250 people without the disease. The average age in both groups was 70.

Participants were asked about vision and eye problems such as blurry vision, dry eyes, trouble with depth perception and problems adjusting to rapid changes in light.

In all, 82% of people with Parkinson's reported one or more eye problems compared to 48% of others, and people with Parkinson's reported daily symptoms much more often, according to the report published online March 11 in the journal Neurology.

In addition, 68% of people with Parkinson's said that eye and vision problems interfered with daily activities, such as driving a car, working on a computer, walking or personal care, 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," Borm said.

The eye-related problems that people with Parkinson's had went beyond the aging process. But they are treatable so it's important that they be screened and treated, she added in an American Academy of Neurology news release.

Borm said people with Parkinson's who are experiencing eye problems should be referred to a specialist. And even among those who do not report having such problems, screening might speed diagnosis and treatment, and improve patients' quality of life, she added.

More information

The Parkinson's Foundation has more on Parkinson's disease.

SOURCE: American Academy of Neurology, news release, March 11, 2020

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