People with Parkinson’s disease have a high rate of vision and eye problems that interfere with daily function and may lead to falls, a new study has found.

Vision screening is crucial for these patients, even if they don’t express having troubles, the researchers asserted.

“It is especially important for people with Parkinson’s to have the best vision possible because it can help compensate for movement problems caused by the disease, and help reduce the risk of falls,” wrote Carlijn D.J.M. Borm, M.D., from Radboud University Medical Centre, the Netherlands, and colleagues.

Among 848 study subjects with established Parkinson’s, fully 82% reported having one or more issues such as blurry vision, dry eyes, trouble with depth perception, and problems adjusting to lighting, reported Borm. That’s compared with 48% of controls. In addition, 68% said that symptoms interfered with daily function, compared with 35% of controls. The extent of the vision troubles were not attributable to age, the researchers said.

“Eye problems make it more difficult for people with Parkinson’s to physically navigate daily life. For example, we found that half of study participants experienced problems with reading, and 33 percent had eye problems that interfered with driving a car,” Borm explained. 

The study was published this week in the online issue of Neurology.