Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Biomedical Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Paul A Wetzel


Parkinson's disease (PD) is a progressive, neurological movement disorder. The stability of eye movements in PD is not well understood but many patients report difficulty doing tasks that require stabilized fixation and gaze. The ability to stabilize an image on the retina is critical is acquiring visual information. The purpose of this study was to compare the stability of fixational eye movements of PD patients to those of age-matched controls. Eye movements during simple fixation tasks were recorded from 66 subjects (ages 52 to 84), and 36 age-matched controls (ages 58-85). The absolute velocity of the fixational eye movements were recorded and correlated to a clinical measure of disease progression as measured by the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS). Unstable, non-rhythmic eye movements were seen in the PD patients. There were significant differences in the absolute velocity and standard deviation between the control group and the PD group in both the horizontal and vertical directions. The correlation of the absolute velocity to the UPDRS was not significant. Parkinson's disease does appear to affect the stability of eye movements. The instabilities in the eye movements appear to precede body tremor. This could lead to an early method for diagnosis and analysis of the disease.


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Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

June 2008