Vision changes and PD
Updated: Nov 20, 2021
Vision changes commonly occur as we get older. For example, you may find that you need to start to use reading glasses for smaller print or more light to see clearly. However, there are also some vision changes that can be associated with PD. These problems include:
Difficulty with movement and focusing of the eyes
Reduced eye blinking, spasms or irritation of the eyelids, and dry eye conditions
Visual perception deficits such as impaired contrast sensitivity and decreased color vision
Problems with visual spatial processing
Experiencing visual hallucinations and illusions
As medication may play a role in some vision changes in PD, consulting with a neurologist is an important first step. Regular eye health exams to identify and manage any other underlying conditions that affect vision (cataracts, age related macular degeneration, and glaucoma, for example) are also recommended. Many people with PD benefit from consulting a neuro-
\ophthalmologist who can prescribe corrective lenses with prisms to support focusing the eyes and provide medical interventions for dry eye and eyelid dysfunction.
Vision problems related to PD can impact the ability to complete daily activities and increase the risk of falls. For example, slow and delayed eye movements may reduce ability to read across a page or focus on visual targets when walking or driving. Decreased contrast sensitivity can contribute to fall risk by making it hard for a person to see subtle changes on walking surfaces.
Working with an occupational therapist (OT) can be helpful. OTs help clients to:
Understand how PD related vision changes affect performance of everyday tasks
Learn how to use strategies or devices to make visual tasks less difficulty
Modify the home or work environment to enhance contrast, increase lighting, and make visual scanning easier
Want to learn more about how OT can help with vision impairments?
Click here for a fact sheet from the American Occupational Therapy Association