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Eye tremor may predict Parkinson's

Using sophisticated eye-tracking tests, researchers at the Richmond VA Medical Center and Virginia Commonwealth University found that patients with Parkinson's disease, even those with a recent diagnosis, displayed an "ocular tremor" that was not found in non-Parkinson's patients. The study included 112 patients with Parkinson's, 18 of whom had not yet begun any treatment, along with 60 "control" patients without the disease. All the Parkinson's patients, whether on medication or not, showed an inability to maintain a stable fixed gaze when shown a target on a computer screen. Of the healthy participants, only two had the same problem—and one of them went on to develop Parkinson's symptoms within two years. Study co-author Mark Baron, MD, a neurologist at VA's Richmond-based Parkinson's Disease Research, Education, and Clinical Center, told Medscape Medical News that the test "could provide clinicians with a simple means to accurately diagnose Parkinson's disease, with accuracy well exceeding that of [other] clinical assessments." (Archives of Neurology, online April 9, 2012)

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