Vision in PD

Some people with Parkinson's disease (PD) experience vision issues, such as trouble reading, double vision, or dry eyes.    Here are some resources to understand how PD affects the eyes and what can be done.

Downloadable Documents | Online Articles | Podcasts & Webinars | Expert-level Resources

Downloadable Documents (PDF)

Eyes and Parkinson’s

Published by Parkinson’s UK, July 2015

This 5-page information sheet (PDF) looks at the difficulties some people with Parkinson’s can experience with their sight.  It looks at the range of symptoms that can affect eyesight, the causes of these problems, available treatment and advice on eye care.

Neuro-ophthalmology and Parkinson’s Disease

By Andrew A. Berman, MD.  Published by the American Parkinson Disease Association, 2011

This 4-page educational supplement (PDF) confirms the frequency of oculomotor and opthalmic complaints in PD.  Referral to a neuro-ophthalmologist, either a neurologist or ophthalmologist with additional training in problems of the eye and nervous system, is recommended.  There is an explanation of eye movements, external eye disease, and sensory deficits common in PD, as well as a discussion on management of these issues.

Vision and Parkinson’s

Published by Parkinson’s Australia, April 2014

This 2-page fact sheet (PDF) explains that bradykinesia may result in several vision changes, as can impaired electrical signals and feedback in the brain.  It discusses each visual change and what can be done to help, as well as a brief discussion of glaucoma and PD. Changes to vision may impair mobility and increase risk of falls.  Not all vision problems are related to PD.

Online Articles

6 Things to Know about Parkinson's and Vision

By Daniel Gold, DO, and Ali G. Hamedani, MD MHS.  Published by the Davis Phinney Foundation, August 21, 2021

This article explores Parkinson’s and vision, including common visual problems and how to get the care you need to manage visual symptoms.

Ask the MD: Vision and Parkinson’s Disease

By Rachel Dolhun, MD.  Published by the Michael J. Fox Foundation, Foxfeed Blog, October 27, 2015

This webpage explains the visual problems that are due to Parkinson’s disease, the medications used to treat it, or to unrelated conditions of the eye or eyelid.  If you have visual problems, don’t assume it is due to either aging or Parkinson’s.  Address it with your doctor to maintain your ability to read, drive, and walk steadily to reduce your risk of falling.

Eye & Vision Issues

By Dr. Andrew Berman.  Published by the American Parkinson Disease Association

This single page resource defines neuro-ophthalmologist and common ophthalmic complaints in Parkinson’s disease.  It explains how Parkinson’s disease affects three fundamental types of eye movements, and contributes to external eye disease and sensory deficits.  Finally there is a brief discussion of managing these ophthalmic issues.

Smell and Vision Difficulties

Published by Parkinson’s Victoria

Only two paragraphs about the loss of smell in Parkinson’s precede nearly a dozen eye problems and vision difficulties for people with Parkinson’s and useful tips for coping with them.  Of note is a paragraph suggesting that those with glaucoma may have problems with anticholinergic medication and levodopa.

Vision: More than Meets the EYE! Tricks to Aid PD Patients

By Maria De León, MD.  Published by, August 9, 2015

Retired neurologist and young onset Parkinson’s patient, Dr. Maria De León reminds us that vision is integral to our quality of life and safety, especially with respect to driving.  She lists 11 common eye problems with PD, and a few uncommon ones.  They may be helped by adjusting medications, with special lenses, or artificial tears.  See your doctor to find out.

Vision Changes

Published by the Parkinson's Foundation

This webpage identifies six common difficulties with the eyes associated with PD and aging.  The webpage offers tips for managing these issues.  The uncommon condition of blepharospasm (involuntary closure of the eyes) is addressed along with several potential causes (not related to Parkinson's) and a bit about the botulinum toxin (Botox) injections that treat it.

Podcasts & Webinars

Eye Health and Parkinson's

By the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation (Now the Parkinson's Foundation), 2015

In this 68-minute webinar, neuro-ophthalmologist Dan Gold discusses common eye movement disorders in Parkinson’s disease and provides practical advice for coping with vision issues at home and with your health care team.

More Than Meets the Eye: Vision Symptoms of PD

By the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation (Now the Parkinson's Foundation), 2015

In this 68-minute webinar, neuro-ophthalmologist Dan Gold discusses common eye movement disorders in Parkinson’s disease and provides practical advice for coping with vision issues at home and with your health care team.

My Parkinson's Story: Visual Disturbances

By the Veteran's Administration

This 6-minute video alternates between an interview with a man and and doctors. The man shares his vision changes due to Parkinson's disease. The doctors explain that the muscles of the eyes develop a tremor in those with Parkinson's disease, causing blurry vision. Parkinson's medication reduces eye tremors by 75-90%, but eye exercises and reading are also beneficial.

Seeing Clearly with PD: Vision Changes

By the Parkinson's Foundation, March 5, 2019

In this 1-hour webinar, neuro-ophthalmologist Dan Gold discusses the most common vision conditions in PD, which negatively impact daily function and quality of life, why they occur, and how to address or treat them.

Expert-Level Resources

Ocular and Visual Disorders in Parkinson’s Disease: Common but Frequently Overlooked

By Merel S. Ekker, et. al.  Published by Parkinsonism & Related Disorders, July 2017

This literature search covering 50 years reviews the range of ocular and visual disorders in patients with PD and classifies these according to anatomical structures of the visual pathway.  It discusses six common disorders in more detail, reviews the effects of PD-related pharmacological and surgical treatments on visual function, and offers practical recommendations for clinical management.

Ocular Motor and Sensory Function in Parkinson Disease

By Zina Almer, et. al.  Ophthalmology, January 2012

The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the effect of dopaminergic medication and deep brain stimulation on ocular function in Parkinson Disease (PD) and to measure vision-elated quality of life in subjects with PD.  The conclusion is that convergence ability is significantly poorer in PD subjects in both “on” and “off” states compared with controls, but significantly improves with systemic dopaminergic treatment.  Ocular motor function in PD subjects fluctuates in response to treatment, which complicates ophthalmic management.  PD subjects have a significant reduction in vision-related quality of life, especially near activities, that it not associated with visual acuity.

“Ophthalmologic Features of Parkinson’s Disease” 

By Dr. V. Biousse, et. al.  Published by Neurology, January 27, 2004

This paper is a systematic evaluation of the ocular complaints and ocular finding of 30 PD patients with early untreated PD, and 31 control subjects without neurologic or known ocular diseases.  The ocular abnormalities found more commonly encountered by PD patients frequently respond to treatment.  Abstract and access to the full article.

Visual Disturbances in Parkinson’s Disease

By Barack Samuel.  Published by Journal of Neurology, November 10, 2009

This article reviews several papers that have been published describing ophthalmological abnormalities, including problems with visual function, ocular movements, and visual hallucinations, as well as complications of drug therapy or neurosurgical interventions.

Visual Symptoms in Parkinson’s Disease

By R. A. Armstrong.  Parkinson’s Disease, May 25, 2011

An overview of visual problems likely to be encountered in PD.  If visual problems are present, they can have an important effect on the quality of life of the patient, which can be improved by accurate diagnosis and where possible, correction of such defects.

Last updated August 2020 by Stanford Parkinson's Community Outreach.