Health

Visual Perception Changes May Be an Early Warning Sign of Alzheimer’s Disease

Memory loss may not always be the first noticeable symptom of Alzheimer’s disease. A new study suggests that some people, especially women, may experience changes in visual perception abilities even while their cognitive abilities seem normal.

To figure this out, researchers examined data on almost 1,100 people who had what’s known as posterior cortical atrophy (PCA), a condition which involves shrunken tissue in brain regions that play a role in interpreting and reacting to visual information. In day-to-day life, this can translate to problems with depth perception while driving or trouble reading, especially at night.

Autopsies revealed that 94 percent of these individuals had signs of Alzheimer’s disease, according to study results published in the Lancet Neurology journal — meaning PCA is almost always caused by Alzheimer’s.

PCA is diagnosed on average at age 59 — five or six years earlier than the average Alzeimer’s diagnosis, according to the National Institutes of Health. It is more prevalent in women, who account for 60 percent of cases.

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