Visual hallucinations in Parkinson’s disease are associated with thinning of the inner retina

F. Visser, V. I. Apostolov, A. M.M. Vlaar, J. W.R. Twisk, H. C. Weinstein, H. W. Berendse

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Visual hallucinations (VH) are common in patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD), yet the underlying pathophysiological mechanisms are still unclear. We aimed to explore the association of the presence of VH with inner retinal thinning and, secondarily, with visual acuity. To this end, we included 40 PD patients in this exploratory study, of whom 14 had VH, and 22 age- and sex-matched healthy controls. All participants were interviewed for the presence of VH by a neurologist specialized in movement disorders and underwent a thorough ophthalmologic examination, including measurement of the best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA) and optical coherence tomography to obtain macular scans of the combined ganglion cell layer and inner plexiform layer (GCL-IPL). Patients with VH had a thinner GCL-IPL than patients without VH, which persisted after correction for age, disease stage, levodopa equivalent daily dose (LED) and cognitive function. Furthermore, BCVA was lower in the PD group with VH than in the PD group without VH, although only a trend remained after correction for age, disease stage, LED and cognitive function. Taken together, in patients with PD, visual hallucinations appear to be associated with a thinning of the inner retinal layers and, possibly, with reduced visual acuity. Further research using a longitudinal design is necessary to confirm these findings and to establish the causality of these relationships.

Original languageEnglish
Article number21110
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020

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