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Over a million Americans are living with Parkinson’s disease, according to the Parkinson’s Foundation. Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological condition that leads to changes in muscle movement and control. Tremors, limb rigidity, and gait problems are common symptoms of the condition. 

Parkinson’s can even affect the nerves and muscles of your eyes. In fact, double vision and Parkinson’s disease are frequently seen together. Muscle weakness around the eyes can cause problems with the way your eyes work together. It might be most noticeable when you’re trying to read or focus on objects close to you. The problem is called convergence insufficiency, and it’s a type of binocular vision dysfunction (BVD). 

Parkinson’s related BVD can lead to certain telltale symptoms, including: 

  • Headaches
  • Double vision
  • Lack of balance
  • Reading difficulties

If you have Parkinson’s and notice vision changes, you might benefit from a neurovisual exam and prismatic lenses. 

What is Binocular Vision Dysfunction?

Binocular vision dysfunction is any condition where your eyes don’t work together properly. Some people are born with BVD and others develop BVD due to illness or injury. It is not like nearsightedness or farsightedness, which cause blurry vision. Instead, BVD causes the eye muscles to constantly shift position in order to focus. That results in eye strain, headaches, double vision, vertigo, and depth perception problems.

How Does Parkinson’s Cause Binocular Vision Dysfunction?

Changes from Parkinson’s can cause BVD. Typically, when your eyes focus on objects coming close to your face, your eyes move inward toward each other. Nerve and muscles changes due to Parkinson’s disease can disrupt that process, so your eyes don’t move together properly. You may notice double vision because each eye is focused on a slightly different spot. You could also have trouble refocusing from line to line as you read along. 

Binocular vision dysfunction can affect your depth perception, as well. That, in turn, may exacerbate any balance problems you have from Parkinson’s. Vision problems could put you at a higher risk for falls. 

You may also have headaches or notice eye fatigue. The effort of constant muscle movement and refocusing puts tremendous strain on your eyes. You might not be able to read or do sustained computer work because of the discomfort Parkinson’s causes your eyes. 

Treating Parkinson’s Related Binocular Vision Dysfunction

Don’t just assume you have to live with these issues. The good news is that a neurovisual specialist can help improve depth perception, balance, reading difficulties, and double vision by prescribing glasses with prism lenses. These special glasses can correct subtle eye misalignments and allow the muscles around the eyes to relax, decreasing symptoms of BVD.  

While a typical optical exam addresses most vision changes, a neurovisual specialist will also examine the muscles around the eyes for BVD. Dr. Sonnenberg at NeuroVisual Specialists of Florida has years of experience assessing eye alignment and muscle function of the eyes. She uses a completely non-invasive evaluation process to identify alignment problems so she can prescribe the right glasses to correct them.

Prismatic lenses move images to where your eyes are positioned. Once you’re wearing them, your eyes don’t have to work as hard to focus. Most people notice an improvement as soon as they start wearing the prism lenses. The best part is, they don’t look any different from ordinary glasses. 

For more information about BVD, prismatic lenses, and the examination process, or to schedule an appointment, contact us today!

Dr. Erin Sonneberg, OD, received her Doctor of Optometry degree from New England School of Optometry in Boston, Massachusetts in 2004. She completed her undergraduate studies at City University of New York, Queens College in 2000, where she graduated with honors in business. Dr. Sonneberg relocated to Boynton Beach, Florida, in 2006, and has been practicing alongside prestigious ophthalmologists in the area since that time.