Parkinson’s disease is a condition which affects the brain gradually over many years. Three of the main symptoms are involuntary shaking of parts of the body, known as a tremor, slow movement and stiff and inflexible muscles. But not all symptoms of the condition effect movement. There are a variety of non-movement signs, some of which impact the eyes.
One indicator of Parkinson’s is dry eyes, according to Parkinson’s UK.
It explains: “People with Parkinson’s may blink less often than other people. Blinking helps to clean the eyes by removing dust and dirt.
“If you blink less often these can build up, making the eyes dry or sore.
“Dry eyes can have other causes, so see your optometrist for advice. They may suggest you try artificial tears.
“These are available from pharmacies and may help reduce discomfort and dryness.”
Parkinson’s patients may blink less because the condition can affect your ability to move parts of the body, including the eyes.
Eye problems may also be unrelated to your Parkinson’s, so it’s best to see your doctor to find out the cause.
Other Parkinson’s symptoms
There are other Parkinson’s symptoms that may not necessarily be linked to movement.
Bupa lists the following:
- Bowel and bladder problems. You may get constipation and you may need to pass urine more often than normal, including at night.
- Problems with swallowing, which can lead to increased saliva and drooling.
- Sexual problems such as erectile dysfunction (in men) and low sex drive (in women).
- Low blood pressure, causing dizziness when you stand up.
- Increased sweating.
- Problems sleeping. This can be for a number of reasons, including being uncomfortable if you’re not able to turn, and having to go to the toilet more often. You may also find it hard to sleep if you’re anxious or depressed.
- Mental health problems. Depression is a common problem in people with Parkinson’s disease. Some people also develop dementia as the disease progresses.
What causes Parkinson’s disease?
The condition is caused by a loss of nerve cells in the part of the brain called the substantia nigra.
“Nerve cells in this part of the brain are responsible for producing a chemical called dopamine,” the NHS explains.
“Dopamine acts as a messenger between the parts of the brain and nervous system that help control and co-ordinate body movements.
“If these nerve cells die or become damaged, the amount of dopamine in the brain is reduced. This means the part of the brain controlling movement can’t work as well as normal, causing movements to become slow and abnormal.”
But it’s not known what causes the loss of nerve cells. While research is ongoing, experts believe a combination of genetic changes and environmental factors may be responsible.
Some experts believe you can lower your risk of Parkinson’s by making some simple changes to your diet.