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Does Parkinson’s Disease Affect the Eyes?

Affinity Health, a leading provider of high-quality health cover, explores the effects Parkinson’s disease may have on your vision in light of World Retina Week.


By far the most important organs of sense are our eyes. Sight guides many daily activities, including reading, texting and driving. About 40% of our brains are devoted to vision. That makes it the most dominant sense. Vision changes are part of ageing. But Parkinson’s disease can also impact sight.


According to Affinity Health, vision issues may result from:

  • Parkinson’s disease (PD).
  • Medication.
  • Other eye diseases.

What Vision Complications are Associated With Parkinson’s Disease?

In the same way that Parkinson’s disease can impact general motion, it can also impair eye movement, making it challenging to keep items in focus or see things up close, such as when reading or driving. In addition to interfering with reading and driving, visual disruptions can exacerbate walking or balance issues and even contribute to hallucinations.


Parkinson’s disease may also impair the capacity to perceive specific colours or diminish their appearance. PD results in the loss of retinal cells in the eye that depend on dopamine for colour processing and perception.


Parkinson’s disease could also potentially affect the eyelids. People with PD blink less frequently, which can cause eye dryness, discomfort, or burning. Untreated, dry eyes can scar the outer layer of the eye, leading to partial or even total vision loss over time.


Some individuals with Parkinson’s disease have the opposite problem of excessive blinking, which can lead to involuntary eye closure (blepharospasm). A few individuals with PD also suffer from eyelid apraxia, a syndrome that causes difficulties opening the eyes.

Medication Can Harm the Eyes

In some cases, PD medications can affect the visual system. Anticholinergic drugs, which treat tremors in some PD cases, can cause dry eyes and blurred vision. In advanced Parkinson’s disease, medications may lead to hallucinations (seeing things that are not there) and illusions (misinterpreting things that are present, such as mistaking a tree for a person).


Learn More: 10 Early Signs of Parkinson’s Disease

How Does Ageing Affect Vision? 

“It is important to note that while several eye disorders can develop as a result of PD, vision issues can also develop with age, regardless of the presence of Parkinson’s disease. Cataracts, macular degeneration, and glaucoma are among these conditions,” says Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health.


cataract is a clouding of the lens of the eye, which can result in blurred or double vision, colour fading, and impaired night vision. That issue may require surgical correction.


Macular degeneration is damage to the macula. That is a small portion of the retina responsible for maintaining central vision. As this condition proceeds, visuals in this region may become dimmer, blurrier, or distorted. There are a few therapies available, These include


Glaucoma is a high eye pressure that can cause damage to the optic nerve and vision loss. Treatment consists of eye drops or surgery.

How to Manage Vision Issues in Parkinson’s

When a visual symptom develops due to Parkinson’s disease, it is essential to rule out other causes. Never assume Parkinson’s disease, especially if the symptoms appear quickly or fluctuate.


If Parkinson’s disease or the medications cause vision difficulty, consult a healthcare professional.

The Affinity Health Optometry Benefit

Affinity Health understands the importance of eye health. So, the Affinity Health Optometry benefit covers basic optometry needs. Optometry services offered to all Members include eye tests and a standard set of frames with lenses every 24 months. For more information on the Affinity Health Optometry benefit, click here.

About Affinity Health

Affinity Health is the leading provider of affordable medical insurance in South Africa. Members enjoy access to a network of healthcare providers. We have designed healthcare products to protect you and your family when it matters the most. We strive to give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service. For more information, follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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