Parkinson's disease patients have been shown to have abnormal visually evoked cortical potentials (VEPs) to pattern stimulation. Whereas dopamine is not an important neurotransmitter in the central visual pathways, the retina is rich in dopamine and, together with previous animal and human studies, this suggests that the abnormal VEPs in Parkinson's disease patients may be due to a biochemical and electrophysiological disorder in the retina. This hypothesis has been examined by studying the VEPs and pattern electroretinogram (PERG) of Parkinson's disease patients and matched control subjects. The amplitudes of the cortical and retinal evoked potentials were significantly reduced in Parkinson's disease patients compared with the control subjects and this could not be attributed to any particular feature of the disease or its treatment. There was a significant relationship between the VEP P100 latency and the PERG amplitude. Moreover for those subjects in whom there was an interocular difference in both cortical and retinal evoked potentials, the abnormality was more commonly found in the potentials from the same eye. These findings suggest that the abnormality of the VEP in Parkinson's disease patients is, at least in part, secondary to an abnormality of the retina itself.
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