Dementia with Lewy bodies ('Lewy body dementia' or 'diffuse Lewy body disease') (DLB) is the second most common form of dementia to affect elderly people, after Alzheimer's disease. A combination of the clinical symptoms of Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease is present in DLB and the disorder is classified as a 'parkinsonian syndrome', a group of diseases which also includes Parkinson's disease, progressive supranuclear palsy, corticobasal degeneration and multiple system atrophy. Characteristics of DLB are fluctuating cognitive ability with pronounced variations in attention and alertness, recurrent visual hallucinations and spontaneous motor features, including akinesia, rigidity and tremor. In addition, DLB patients may exhibit visual signs and symptoms, including defects in eye movement, pupillary function and complex visual functions. Visual symptoms may aid the differential diagnoses of parkinsonian syndromes. Hence, the presence of visual hallucinations supports a diagnosis of Parkinson's disease or DLB rather than progressive supranuclear palsy. DLB and Parkinson's disease may exhibit similar impairments on a variety of saccadic and visual perception tasks (visual discrimination, space-motion and object-form recognition). Nevertheless, deficits in orientation, trail-making and reading the names of colours are often significantly greater in DLB than in Parkinson's disease. As primary eye-care practitioners, optometrists should be able to work with patients with DLB and their carers to manage their visual welfare.
- Alzheimer's disease
- dementia with Lewy bodies
- visual hallucinations
- Parkinson's disease
- progressive supranuclear palsy