Colour discrimination impairment is not a reliable early marker of Parkinson's disease
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Disturbances of colour visual discrimination have been shown to occur frequently in Parkinson's disease (PD). To verify the potential utility of reduced colour sensitivity as a diagnostic marker of early PD, we examined 14 PD patients, mean age 55.4 years, disease duration 2.3 years, in Hoehn and Yahr stages 1, 1.5, or 2, previously untreated with levodopa. Colour discrimination was measured with the Farnsworth-Munsell 100-hue test in patients who were compared with age-matched controls. The examinations were performed under standard conditions in a room illuminated by a daylight lamp Biolux Osram 6500 K. The mean total error score (MTES) and partial error scores (green-yellow and red-green axis) were calculated for every person examined. No significant differences were found between PD patients (MTES 49.1 ± SD 37) and controls (MTES 37.9 ± SD 25). Similarly, the mean partial scores were not significantly elevated in PD patients. We found an elevation of error scores exceeding the upper limit of normality (control mean + 2SD) only in three patients. We conclude that colour visual discrimination is not consistently impaired in early stages of PD and does not appear as a reliable early marker of Parkinson's disease.
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