Abnormal visual contrast acuity in Parkinson's disease

Tanya P. Lin, Heather Rigby, Jennifer S. Adler, Joseph G. Hentz, Laura J. Balcer, Steven L. Galetta, Steve Devick, Richard Cronin, Charles H. Adler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Background: Low-contrast vision is thought to be reduced in Parkinson's disease (PD). This may have a direct impact on quality of life such as driving, using tools, finding objects, and mobility in low-light condition. Low-contrast letter acuity testing has been successful in assessing low-contrast vision in multiple sclerosis. We report the use of a new iPad application to measure low-contrast acuity in patients with PD. Objective: To evaluate low- and high-contrast letter acuity in PD patients and controls using a variable contrast acuity eye chart developed for the Apple iPad. Methods: Thirty-two PD and 71 control subjects were studied. Subjects viewed the Variable Contrast Acuity Chart on an iPad with both eyes open at two distances (40 cm and 2 m) and at high contrast (black and white visual acuity) and 2.5% low contrast. Acuity scores for the two groups were compared. Results: PD patients had significantly lower scores (indicating worse vision) for 2.5% low contrast at both distances and for high contrast at 2 m (p < 0.003) compared to controls. No significant difference was found between the two groups for high contrast at 40 cm (p = 0.12). Conclusions: Parkinson's disease patients have reduced low and high contrast acuity compared to controls. An iPad app, as used in this study, could serve as a quick screening tool to complement more formal testing of patients with PD and other neurologic disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)125-130
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Parkinson's disease
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2015


  • Parkinson's disease
  • contrast sensitivity
  • vision
  • visual acuity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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