Visual signs and symptoms of multiple system atrophy


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Abstract

Multiple system atrophy (MSA) is a rare movement disorder and a member of the ‘parkinsonian syndromes’, which also include Parkinson's disease (PD), progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) and corticobasal degeneration (CBD). Multiple system atrophy is a complex syndrome, in which patients exhibit a variety of signs and symptoms, including parkinsonism, ataxia and autonomic dysfunction. It can be difficult to separate MSA from the other parkinsonian syndromes but if ocular signs and symptoms are present, they may aid differential diagnosis. Typical ocular features of MSA include blepharospasm, excessive square-wave jerks, mild to moderate hypometria of saccades, impaired vestibular-ocular reflex (VOR), nystagmus and impaired event-related evoked potentials. Less typical features include slowing of saccadic eye movements, the presence of vertical gaze palsy, visual hallucinations and an impaired electroretinogram (ERG). Aspects of primary vision such as visual acuity, colour vision or visual fields are usually unaffected. Management of the disease to deal with problems of walking, movement, daily tasks and speech problems is important in MSA. Optometrists can work in collaboration with the patient and health-care providers to identify and manage the patient's visual deficits. A more specific role for the optometrist is to correct vision to prevent falls and to monitor the anterior eye to prevent dry eye and control blepharospasm.

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