Towards seeing the visual impairments in Parkinson's disease: protocol for a multicentre observational, cross-sectional study.

BMC Neurol 2019 Jun 25;19(1):141. Epub 2019 Jun 25.

Department of Neurology, Parkinson Center Nijmegen (ParC) Nijmegen, Donders institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Radboud University Medical Centre, PO Box 9101, 6500, HB, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.

Background: Visual disorders are common in Parkinson's disease (PD) but their exact frequency and severity are unknown. Good visual functioning is crucial for patients with PD, because of their need to compensate for loss of automated motor control and their postural instability, forcing patients to guide their movements visually. Here, we describe the study design of a cross-sectional, multi-centre study aiming to: (1) validate the Visual Impairment screening questionnaire (VIPD-Q, which aims to identify PD patients who should be referred to an ophthalmologist for further assessment); (2) study the prevalence of visual disorders in PD; (3) study the severity and clinical impact of different types of visual disorders in PD; and (4) explore treatment options for ophthalmologic disorders in PD, as a basis for future guideline development.

Methods: This study consists of two phases. In phase one, 750 PD patients and 250 healthy controls will be recruited to complete the VIPD-Q. In phase two, a subgroup of responders (n = 100) (with the highest and lowest scores on the VIPD-Q) will be invited for an extensive neurological and ophthalmological assessment. The in-depth ophthalmologic examination will serve as the "gold standard" for validating the VIPD-Q. Moreover, these assessments will be used to study associations between visual disorders and clinical presentation, in order to gain more insight in their clinical impact.

Discussion: Our study will heighten the awareness of visual problems in PD and offers a robust starting point to systematically approach this subject. In current daily practice, the association between visual problems and PD is far from obvious to both patients and clinicians. Consequently, patients may not adequately report visual problems themselves, while clinicians miss potentially treatable visual disorders. Routinely asking patients to complete a simple screening questionnaire could be an easy solution leading to timely identification of visual problems, tailored treatment, restored mobility, greater independence and improved quality of life.

Trial Registration: Dutch Trial Registration, NL7421 , Registered on 4 December 2018 - Retrospectively registered.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12883-019-1365-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6591947PMC
June 2019
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