Parkinson’s disease occurs after a nerve cells are lost in a part of the brain known as the substantia nigra. This can lead to a reduction in dopamine which is a chemical in the brain that helps regulate movement in the body. If dopamine is in short supply, symptoms of Parkinson’s disease can be triggered. While the three main symptoms of the condition are involuntary sharking of particular parts of the body, slow movement, and stiff and inflexible muscles, it’s also important to note symptoms that can affect the eyes.
Dry eyes, blurred vision, double vision, problems with colour vision, and problems seeing movement can all occur in Parkinson’s patients, according to Parkinson’s UK.
People with Parkinson’s may blink less often than other people which can lead to dry eyes.
The charity explains: “Blinking helps to clean the eyes by removing dust and dirt. If you blink less often these can build up, making the eyes dry or sore.
“Dry eyes can have other causes, so see your optometrist for advice. They may suggest you try artificial tears. These are available from pharmacies and may help reduce discomfort and dryness.”
Difficulty moving the eyes
Parkinson’s can affect your ability to move parts of the body, including your eyes – this may result in difficulties starting to move your eyes or when trying to move them quickly.
It says: “It may be more noticeable when looking at a fast-moving object, such as when watching moving cars or a tennis match. Sometimes, instead of a smooth movement, your eyes may move in a slow and jerky way.
This can make certain activities, such as driving, more difficult. If this happens talk to your GP, specialist or Parkinson’s nurse because Parkinson’s medication may help.”
Some people with Parkinson’s experience ‘tracking’, according to the charity.
It explains: “This is when the eyes do not move smoothly across a line or from one object to another, for example moving across a page when reading, or up and down.
“Poor co-ordination and fatigue of the muscles that move the eyeballs can also mean that the eyes do not quite move together. This can cause double vision.”
Some people with Parkinson’s may have difficulty telling the difference between some colours.
It adds: “This problem may be worse for shades of blue or blue/green. Your colour vision may improve with Parkinson’s medication.”
Some people with the condition don’t see movement accurately and seem unable to judge the speed of moving objects – for example traffic.
It advises: “If you experience this problem, try to take extra care when crossing roads or when driving. Speak to your health professional for advice.”