Ask the Doctor Q&A

Ask the Doctor Q&A


Q: I have PD. Now that the country is “opening up”, what should I do? Should I start to venture out or continue my current practices of staying at home and only going out for walks if I can safely stay six feet away from others?

A:  Various states are creating plans to “reopen” as the rate of new cases of COVID-19 slows down. (It should be noted that in some places in the US, new cases are not slowing, yet reopening is taking place anyway.)  It is important to reiterate that the risk of a complicated course of COVID-19 is not the same for everyone. People who are over 65 and have underlying medical conditions will continue to need to be careful even if their city is opening up. Small studies from around the world are examining whether PD is an underlying medical condition that increases the risk factor for worsened COVID-19. For those with advanced symptoms, the answer seems to be yes. For those with mild symptoms, the jury is still out. The PD community will therefore have to be more careful than the general population as we ease back into “normal” life. If you are in a situation in which there are other people around, wearing masks and staying more than six feet away are important, and don’t forget to wash your hands frequently. These measures reduce (but do not eliminate) the risk of transmission and should continue even if others around you are not complying.

Q:  Since my diagnosis of PD in 2014, my eyesight has been affected in a number of ways. One thing I now have trouble with is following the ball when I play golf. I try to focus on the ball, but I can feel my eyes lose their focus. Is this related to PD? Is there anything I can do about it?

A:  I wonder if the problem is what we call convergence insufficiency – you are able to see the ball at a distance, but not when the ball is closer to you, because your eyes don’t work together to see close objects. Ask your neurologist for a referral to a neuro-ophthalmologist who can test for this and other eye movement conditions. Sometimes prisms in your glasses can help with this problem.

Q:  My husband has had PD for 14 years and recently started to have sudden falls, where he crumbles to the floor. They are very scary for me to watch, but he seems to quickly be OK once he is on the floor. What could be going on?

A:  Sudden falling could be due to a number of issues and your husband definitely needs a complete medical evaluation to figure out what is going on. One possibility is that he is experiencing drops in blood pressure as he is walking, which is a common non-motor symptom of PD. Talk with his neurologist about what is going on because this problem needs to be solved quickly. Sudden falls can cause serious injury such as a broken bone or traumatic brain injury and could quickly spiral into a major problem.