The ABCs of Parkinson’s: The Letter ‘E’ Is for ‘Eyes’

The ABCs of Parkinson’s: The Letter ‘E’ Is for ‘Eyes’

Sherri Journeying Through

About 12 years before my “official” diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, I originally went to an eye doctor, as I was having issues with my right eye. It would feel as if it were literally burning, and I could “see” a fiery red fireball behind my eye. The ophthalmologist told me my optic nerve was hemorrhaging. He gave me a few guesses of what might be going on and a few of what it might become, none of which was Parkinson’s disease.

However, it appears, thanks to increased research that is taking place concerning the eyes and Parkinson’s disease, that there’s evidence that one of the earlier non-motor symptoms of PD might have to do with the eyes.

According to the Michael J. Fox Foundation, “PD causes a loss of retinal cells in the eye that rely on dopamine to process and perceive color.

“Parkinson’s may also impact the eyelids. People with PD blink less frequently, which can lead to dryness, irritation or burning of the eyes. Sometimes it even causes blurred vision.”

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These are symptoms of the eyes that have become better known as of late.

Citing another study, optometrist Paul C. Ajamian stated that “tremor manifests earliest in the eye.” He noted that special “eye tracking equipment is needed,” but that “the testing instrument … is not likely to be found in most eye doctors’ offices.”

Parkinson’s disease can affect the eyes in other ways, such as through rapid eye movement. One type is known as saccades, which enables the eyes to find a new target quickly. Vergence is another type in which the eyes have difficulty focusing as the target they are looking at comes closer. This can cause double vision and other problems.

Additional problems will occur, too. That’s just how PD is: an ongoing chronic disease with twists and turns throughout the journey with this little monster. Some days, we see clearly through the eyes of hope that we’re going to make it through this valley, and on other days, we lose sight of that hope.

In the Old Testament, 2 Chronicles 16:9 says, “For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.”

My hope remains strong knowing His eyes are searching for those He may not only support, but also strongly support. Our eyes may fail, our bodies may break, but His strength will be our support.

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Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.

9 comments

  1. Monica says:

    I thought this was the case. I have color blindness but they are not sure why. I was not having problems with my eyes until I started getting tremor symptoms 10 years ago. I have very dry eyes and increasing eyesight problems. I used to always have perfect vision. I am only 35 years old. One year I even had optic neuritis for some unknown reason. It went away eventually but so odd. Even the eye specialists could not tell me what was going on. This is a great article.

  2. Sophia Swann says:

    So informative, as I believe myu 57 yr.old son will soon be seeing a neurologist for the first time has Parkinsons. He has the tremors, eye sight has gotten progressivly worse, and walks in slow motion. no problem swallowing, or choking, no falling or stumbling. Praying for a treatment soon to attack this monster that takes over so many lives.

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