Ask the Doctor/Q&A with Dr. Rebecca Gilbert

Ask the Doctor/Q&A with Dr. Rebecca Gilbert


Q: I have heard about gene therapy for Parkinson’s disease. What is this and how do I know if I am a good candidate for this?

A: Gene therapy is a category of potential treatments in which a genetically-engineered virus, which contains a small fragment of DNA, is made to infect particular cells in the body. The virus then transfers the DNA fragment into the cells of the body and causes those cells to manufacture a protein based on the DNA fragment. Gene therapy is used in many different conditions, and over the years, different variations of this procedure have been tried for PD. None have succeeded to the point that it is an approved therapy, but research continues. Right now, if you are interested in gene therapy for PD, you can join a clinical trial. If you have a relatively straight-forward case of PD and you are in good overall health, you may be eligible for the available trials. Search for “Parkinson’s disease” and “gene therapy” on to see a list of all the gene therapy trials past and present for PD.

Q: I have PD and have issues with falling and freezing. Is it safe for me to be on a blood thinner?

A: This is a great question and one that many physicians and patients struggle with. It depends on:

  • How much you need the blood thinner (Why are you on it? What are the risks if you do not take it?).
  • Your risk of falling (Are you falling every day? Once a month? Are you able to brace your falls at all? Have you hit your head?).

Your physician will have to make a decision based on your particular risk:benefit profile. There is no one right answer here, so an open and honest discussion with your doctor is important in order to decide what is best and safest for you.

Q: I have problems with both near and far vision. I would like to know if progressive lenses are good for someone with PD or if having two different pairs of glasses is better.

A: Many ophthalmologists who are familiar with PD say that progressive lenses are more difficult for people with PD than for others because it is hard for people with PD to transition between the different lens areas. Therefore, it is typically recommended to have two different pairs of glasses.

However, everyone is different and if you find progressive lenses are easier for you and they help you see better, then that is a good solution for you.