Quick visual recognition test could screen for dementia with visual symptoms

Patients with visual problems that have a neurological origin were unable to decipher a fragmented image

Man with a walking stick

New research by the College of Optometrists has highlighted that a simple visual recognition test could help to differentiate between vision problems that have a neurological origin and those that have optical causes.

The study, which was published in BMJ Open, involved conducting different forms of vision assessment on three patients in their 60s and 70s with a form of dementia called posterior cortical atrophy (PCA).

PCA can result in unusual phenomena, such as finding it easier to read smaller fonts than larger ones and visuospatial and perception problems.

The researchers found that simple, short tests of vision were more effective than subjective tests. Amsler Grid and visual field analysis proved problematic for patient participants.

A simple test that contrasted full and fragmented images or letters showed promise as a means of differentiating between cortical vision problems and those with an optical basis.

Those with PCA could identify the full image or letter but not the fragmented one.

Director of research at the College of Optometrists, Michael Bowen, said that the study builds on previous evidence that short, simple tests are preferable for this group of patients.

“It is important that optometrists, as the first port of call for those with vision problems, are aware of PCA, to ensure that patients are diagnosed as quickly as possible and can come to terms with the condition.”

Image credit: Pixabay