Eye Disorders & Vision Problems in Parkinson’s Disease

Although tremor and rigidity are the typical symptoms of a patient with Parkinson’s disease, eye problems are quite common too, and are important because they can interfere with the quality of life of a person. When faced with eye disorders or vision problems in patients with Parkinson’s disease, it is important to bear in mind that some of these conditions may not be related to Parkinson’s. Old age, poor eyesight, complication from other chronic conditions, like diabetes, may impact on the eyesight in any person, even when Parkinson’s disease is not present.

Types of Eye Problems in Parkinson’s Disease

  • Blurred vision or difficulty in focusing may be due to difficulty in moving the eyes or due to the side effects of Parkinson’s drug therapy, especially anticholinergics. This problem may occur on starting treatment with anticholinergics, but normally improves over time. It may also occur with long-term treatment with anticholinergics or after some dose adjustments.
  • Double vision usually occurs in Parkinson’s disease due to problems in moving the eyes in alignment from side to side, such as when reading. This occurs as a result of impaired coordination and fatigue of the muscles moving the eyeballs.
  • Excessive tearing (lachrymation) of the eyes.
  • Dry eyes is caused by reduced blinking of the eyes.
  • Difficulty in moving the eyes may be manifested in two ways : (i) difficulty in starting a movement of the eyes or (ii) problem with moving the eyes quickly when following a fast moving object. Instead of moving smoothly, the eyes move in a slow and jerky way. Driving a vehicle may pose difficulties.
  • Sensitivity to contrast – there may be difficulty in seeing in dim light, or making out light colored objects against a light background, or difficulty in reading fine print.
  • Color vision may be affected for differentiating between slight color differences, especially for shades of blue or blue-green.
  • Problem with visuo-spatial orientation or depth perception – the person may have difficulty in assessing the distance between objects and may need to reach out to touch the sides of the wall or objects while walking through a narrow place. This may create problems while walking or driving.
  • Glaucoma and anti-Parkinson’s medication – levodopa and anticholinergics should be used with caution in patients with glaucoma.
  • Some patients with Parkinson’s disease cannot judge the speed of moving objects, which may be dangerous if driving or trying to cross the street.
  • Hallucinations and illusions or visual misinterpretations are more likely to occur in those people who have had Parkinson’s disease for a long time. It may be due to the disease itself or due to anti-Parkinson drugs.
  • Blepharospasm or involuntary spasm of the eyelids.

Treatment of Eye Problems in Parkinson’s Disease

  • Blurred vision – modification of anticholinergic medicine dose and adjustments in power if wearing glasses.
  • Double vision – improves with anti-Parkinson medicines and by resting the eye.
  • Dry eyes – using artificial tear drops and avoiding dry, hot and smoky places.
  • Difficulty in moving the eyes – usually improves with anti-Parkinson drugs.
  • Sensitivity to contrast – improves with treatment by levodopa.
  • Color vision – problem may improve with anti-Parkinson medicines.
  • Hallucinations – reducing the dose of anti-Parkinson drugs and use of neuroleptics such as clozapine and quetapine.


    • Hi Jane Murray

      Unfortunately we cannot provide you with the details of any such practitioner. Ask your general practitioner or specialist physician for a referral in your area.

  1. I am the next of kin of my ex-husband who has schizophrenia, parkinsonism and perhaps now epilepsy because of numerous falls. He has been moved from a mental health residential care home to a nursing home, category dementia, much against my will.
    It is a big place and the corridor where his room is is usually unlit. He gets lost, finds the different colours difficult to negotiate. I am fighting the authorities to have him moved to a mental health nursing home.
    He is very confused at times and does hallucinate (differently from the hallucinations of schizophrenia, I think), but is orientated in time, place and people a lot of the time too. Is there any information that I could put forward to make some of the decision makers understand that some symptoms of confusion are not necessarily dementia?

  2. First let me say your ex husband is lucky to have you, and you sound like a wonderful person.

    The problem with having both PD and schizophrenia is one results from too little dopamine and the other from too much, and this is where his Parkinsonism is that it is so difficult to get the balance right. Presumably if his dopamine levels are low then he is more coherent and more with it, although not able to move as well as normal? Which do you think he would prefer, Parkinsonism and no schizoid behavior, or no P’sm and off the wall behavior or dementia? I have PD and know I would choose that rather than the symptoms of dementia.

    Marianne, you so badly need to talk to a sympathetic medic, and with one on your side go political, talk to your congressmen, your Mayor, whooever – it is your right and your ex husband will thank you, AND you will know you have done all you can, and maybe it would be enough to get him back out of the nursing home.

  3. My father has a problem with his eyes and I am wondering if it has something to do with him not blinking his eyes as often as he used to. He gets a thick white matter that “strings” across his eyeball and is extremely hard to remove. I have tried eye drops, which help a bit, but it is quite a process and in the morning, must be dealt with before he will get up for breakfast or to take his medication. Any suggestions as to what might be causing the problem and how we might prevent it or make it not so debilitating?

  4. Is it a symptom of the disease or a side effect of the medication to be constantly mistaking a tree trunk for a medieval knight? It seems funny but in fact it can be very disturbing. usually it comes into focus as a depth perception issue .

  5. My 82 year-old mother has Parkinson’s disease. Over the past few years, and more often now, she closes her eyes extremely tightly and seems to be almost frozen in that position. The first time I saw her do this, I wondered if she was in pain. Sometimes I see her do this when there appears to be too many “distractions” around, i.e., more people than she’s used to. I have been researching to see if this is typical of people with Parkinson’s disease and have not had much luck. Has anyone else observed this in a Parkinson’s patient? Could this simply be that my mom is trying to cry or to shut out vision problems?

    • Hi my dad has Parkinson’s and has just started to keep his eyes closed and just be in an almost trance we try and speak to him but he just keeps his eyes closed and doesn’t respond. He is 81 next month and his condition has deteriorated so much over the last 6mths is this a common sign of Parkinson’s? We were getting worried that he had just decided to give up X thanks any feedback greatly appreciated xx

  6. My 82-year-old mother was diagnosed with PD 12 years ago and is now in later stages. She recently bought new prescription eyeglasses with prisms. But she can only read for a short time before words get distorted. She’s trying drugstore reading glasses as her doctor suggestion. Any other suggestions for helping her vision to read?

  7. My 79 year old father has PD he has been having a problem with his eyes. He has to pry his eyes open. He has gone to numerous eye doctors and specialists. When he first went to the first optic nuerologist. He mentioned botox he did it every 3 months for a year and a half sometimes it worked for a little while than others nothing. Than went to another optic nuero and he did it alittle different. Lets just hope this one works. He is total wheelchair bound and runs into walls someday he is going to hurt himself bad, He wants his independence. Which can blame him. Has anyone else tried botox.

  8. I was diagnosed with idiopathic Parkinson’s in 2007 and recently was evaluated for DBS surgery. The movement disorder specialist is concerned about my focusing problems. This could be from having Parkinson’s or PSP. What are the differences as far as the eye focusing problems go in idiopathic parkinsons and PSP?

  9. 79 yrs old. Recent diagnosed with PD. waking up in AM & front wall appears to be inches from my face. is there a name for this? I am not taking Levadopa.

  10. while driving one day I started to have doublevision.I couldnt drive well so I called my doctor and went to a ER.They thought i was having a stroke and gave me the works.I told them I had PD and it might be a drug problem.I didnt know at the time how common DV is with PD.I also have some depth perception problems.
    I guess eye problems with PD are very average,I just wish doctors would read up on PD people and save us alot of uneeded anxiety.
    I also think this came about because I was having a off period when the drugs wernt working well.

    • I have had Parkinson’s Disease for about 7 years now, that I know of. maybe longer than that. I get sharp pains in the left side of my head. had all tests available & have had ruled out any problems inside my head. My vision is now very blurry in the AM & some times all day. My balance is getting worse & leg weakness. The whole left side of my body is numb & the arm & leg stays cold & needs to be covered all day. I am on 5 Carbidopa a day & 2 Ropinirole at night. I use a Dr. suggested sleepy pill & it works great mos of the time. My leg cramps & shaking hands & fingers have calmed down real well while on theses meds. I am always open to suggestions on any way to enjoy the remainder of my life. I am 72 & hope to NOT live to become an invalid for my wife to have to worry about. Thank you. 🙂 Bill Sr.

  11. Why can I find nothing about poor eyesight worsening Parkinsons symptoms? Seems all is about this way. My lady has agreed to an eye exam and glasses, so we’ll see what happens.

  12. I have had my vision feel like I was looking through a smoky or foggy window. do not know if it is caused by PARKISON,S OR NOT.I am 81 years old and have had pd for approximately 8 years.

    • I was diagnosed with Young Onset PD when I was 44. I am now 62. At the age of 13, I was diagnosed with Keratakonus and in my early 20’s I had Corneal transplants on each eye. They have done well over the years and I am now going on 40 plus years with the transplants. In the past year and a half my eyes have started to burn quite a bit of the time and I can no longer wear my gas permeable hard lens contacts more than a few hours per day. I cannot wear glasses nor soft contacts as my astigmatism is so bad I can’t see. I use artificial tears constantly with very little help. This has caused me to have headaches on a near daily basis. I have been to Ophthalmologist and other doctors without much success. Has anyone out there had any experience with Parkinson’s and Keratakonus together.

  13. Can somebody give some advice. My PD had caused me get scoliosis and now to the point that I have to use a walker. I had hoped to have surgery but after meeting with the doctor at KU last week. There would be too many complications. I have to use a walker and I am in lots of pain and don’t like to take pain meds due to constipation problems. I have lost 4″ somewhat to my leaning due to the spine curvature and my clothes don’t fit very well anymore. This scoliosis just really got bad the last few years. I didn’t know that PD and scoliosis can go together. The curvature has comprised my lungs somewhat and I have had aspiration pneumonia 3 times this year. As for the eye problems I got new glasses after I had retina surgery on both eye and had to have prisms in the new lenses. I take Sinement for the PD

  14. My 73 yr old husband, battling PD, is in hospital with a staph infection. The A/B is Septra. He is on Sinemet for PD. He is having difficulty picking up his fork, finding a morsel of food on his plate & putting it in his mouth. Also, he will go through the motions of picking up something off a plate and lift it to his mouth when in fact he picked up nothing and nothing went into his mouth. He is confused at times, hallucinates and, is now facing limitations, walking with a walker. Can this be due to a bad interaction with the two drugs. His B/P is fluctuating.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.