Visual signs and symptoms of corticobasal degeneration

Clin Exp Optom. 2016 Nov;99(6):498-506. doi: 10.1111/cxo.12429. Epub 2016 Aug 23.


Corticobasal degeneration is a rare, progressive neurodegenerative disease and a member of the 'parkinsonian' group of disorders, which also includes Parkinson's disease, progressive supranuclear palsy, dementia with Lewy bodies and multiple system atrophy. The most common initial symptom is limb clumsiness, usually affecting one side of the body, with or without accompanying rigidity or tremor. Subsequently, the disease affects gait and there is a slow progression to influence ipsilateral arms and legs. Apraxia and dementia are the most common cortical signs. Corticobasal degeneration can be difficult to distinguish from other parkinsonian syndromes but if ocular signs and symptoms are present, they may aid clinical diagnosis. Typical ocular features include increased latency of saccadic eye movements ipsilateral to the side exhibiting apraxia, impaired smooth pursuit movements and visuo-spatial dysfunction, especially involving spatial rather than object-based tasks. Less typical features include reduction in saccadic velocity, vertical gaze palsy, visual hallucinations, sleep disturbance and an impaired electroretinogram. Aspects of primary vision such as visual acuity and colour vision are usually unaffected. Management of the condition to deal with problems of walking, movement, daily tasks and speech problems is an important aspect of the disease.

Keywords: Parkinsonian syndrome; saccadic eye movement; tauopathy; visuo-spatial function.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Dementia / complications
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Eye Diseases / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Multiple System Atrophy / complications
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / complications*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / diagnosis
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / pathology
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / therapy
  • Ocular Motility Disorders / etiology
  • Parkinson Disease / complications
  • Reflex, Vestibulo-Ocular
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / etiology
  • Supranuclear Palsy, Progressive / complications
  • Visual Fields