A NOVEL COMPREHENSIVE ASSESSMENT OF VISUAL DYSFUNCTION IN PARKINSON’S DISEASE
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
AbstractParkinson’s disease (PD) is generally characterized by difficulty controlling muscle movements due to the loss of dopaminergic cells in the substantia nigra region of the brain. Additionally, the aggregation protein clusters known as Lewy bodies, otherwise known as phosphorylated 𝛼-synuclein, begins at the brainstem and progresses toward cortical regions of the brain as the disease progresses. 𝛼-synuclein has also been found in the retina of PD patients. PD patients often complain of vision problems, but there is little research in this area. Due to the pattern of 𝛼-synuclein aggregates in the cortical regions and the retina, it is possible that lowerlevel and higher-level visual processing may be affected in patients with PD. This study recruited 31 subjects with PD and 23 control subjects to participate at the Southern Arizona VA Health Care System in Tucson, Arizona. Each patient signed consent forms approved by the SAVAHCS IRB. A series of cognitive tasks that measured the function of the dorsal visual pathway, ventral visual pathway, executive function, low-level vision, general cognition and dexterity were administered to each subject. It was found that subjects with PD have diminished low-level vision, processing in the dorsal visual pathway, general top-down executive function, and motor function.