Visual disturbances are increasingly recognized as common non-motor symptoms in Parkinson’s disease (PD). In PD patients, intermittent diplopia has been found to be associated with the presence of visual hallucinations and the Parkinson’s psychosis spectrum. Here, we investigated whether diplopia in PD is associated with other non-motor traits and cognitive impairment.
We investigated 50 non-demented PD patients with and without intermittent diplopia and 24 healthy controls for visual disturbances, as well as motor and non-motor symptoms. All participants underwent a neuropsychological test battery; visuospatial abilities were further evaluated with subtests of the Visual Object and Space Perception Battery (VOSP). The two PD patient groups did not differ significantly in age, symptom duration, motor symptom severity, frequency of visual hallucinations, or visual sensory efficiency.
PD patients with diplopia reported more frequent non-motor symptoms including more subjective cognitive problems and apathy without changes in global cognition measures compared to those without diplopia. PD patients with diplopia had greater impairment in several tests of visuospatial function (pentagon copying p = .002; number location p = .001; cube analysis p < .02) and object perception (p < .001) compared to PD patients without diplopia and healthy controls. By contrast, no consistent group differences were observed in executive function, memory, or language.
PD patients with diplopia have a greater non-motor symptom burden and deficits in visuospatial function compared to PD patients without diplopia. PD patients with diplopia might be prone to a cortical phenotype with cognitive decline and apathy associated with worse prognosis.