Parkinson’s disease: the link between cognitive decline and visual dysfunction

According to recent research, visual dysfunction within Parkinson’s disease patients can help determine if they are at a higher risk of cognitive decline.

People with Parkinson’s encounter specific visual hindrances, such as changes in colour vision and contrast sensitivity. They also have difficulties with emotional recognition and mental rotation.

Cognitive decline and visual dysfunction are symptoms of Parkinson’s, yet the link between them is not well understood. This misunderstanding is due to how they affect patients differently.

However, researchers from the University College London discovered that visual dysfunction predicts when Parkinson’s patients will experience cognitive decline and how alterations in the brain related.

The research tested 25 healthy people and 77 Parkinson’s patients, 55 who had an intact vision and 22 who had lower visual functions. Plus, 51 patients had normal cognition, while 13 had mild cognitive impairment.

All of the participants underwent a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan to identify their cognitive abilities. Those with visual dysfunctions displayed poor cognitive performance and showed signs of being more likely to develop mild cognitive impairment than those with normal vision.

The researchers discovered that poor visual function came hand in hand with the loss of white matter (the brain tissue that coordinates communication between regions of the brain) over a long period. These findings suggest that vision tests could show which people with Parkinson’s disease are at a higher risk of cognitive deterioration.

Care at Home specialises in caring for those living with Parkinson’s and is dedicated to maintaining independence, dignity and respect for all those who we have the privilege to support. For more information on our services, contact us today.

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Mental health