Problems with Eyesight Prevalent in Parkinson’s Disease as Patients Age, Study Finds

According to a story from Parkinson’s News Today, older patients with Parkinson’s disease appear to have a higher than average rates of vision problems. These issues are also associated with worse outcomes for patients. The findings come from a study which utilized records from US Medicare. Despite the prevalence of eyesight conditions, only around 60 percent of patients whose data was analyzed were getting annual vision exams. Data from a total of 285,000 patients was used.

About Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a type of long term, progressive, degenerative illness that affects the central nervous system. Symptoms tend to develop over a period of years and primarily affect the movement ability and mental state of the patient. The cause of Parkinson’s disease remains a mystery, although there are a number of risk factors that have been identified. These factors include head injuries, pesticide exposure, and certain genetic variants and mutations. About 15 percent of patients have a close relative with the disease, suggesting some genetic connection. Symptoms include slowed movements, poor coordination, trouble walking, shaking, stiffness, abnormal posture, depression, anxiety, inhibited thinking, hallucinations, and dementia. Treatment may involve a number of medications, rehabilitation, and surgical operations. Survival rate varies, but most patients survive around a decade after getting diagnosed. To learn more about Parkinson’s disease, click here.

Study Findings

Vision issues in patients over age 65 are closely linked to other serious health problems, such as dementia, falling, and mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. Prior research has steadily begun to link vision problems as a common symptom of Parkinson’s disease, particular as the illness progresses in older patients. The goal of the study in question was determine how common these issues were among patients.

Many vision problems are preventable or treatable, so greater awareness about them could help these patients avoid eyesight difficulties further down the line. 1.67 percent of patients were found to have eye problems compared to 0.71 percent of the general population of older adults sampled. Older people, people of Latinx or African-American origin, people with high blood pressure/diabetes, and women were at greater risk.

Some of the most common sources of eye issues in patients were diabetes, cataracts, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration. The authors suggest that Parkinson’s disease should be considered a risk factor for vision problems and that disease management should attempt to account for this risk.

Check out the original study, published in the medical journal Movement Disorders, here

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