Posterior cortical atrophy is a degenerative brain and nervous system (neurological) syndrome that results in difficulty with eyesight and processing visual information. Common symptoms include difficulties with reading, judging distances, and reaching for objects, as well as trouble with calculations and recognizing objects and familiar faces. Over time this condition may cause your memory and thinking abilities (cognitive skills) to decline.
Posterior cortical atrophy changes a person's ability to purposefully process visual and spatial information. This difficulty is secondary to atrophy of the back (posterior) part of the brain. This is the region responsible for visual processing and spatial reasoning.
Posterior cortical atrophy is most commonly due to Alzheimer's disease (over 80%) but may be due to other neurological conditions, such as Lewy body dementia or corticobasal degeneration.
Posterior cortical atrophy symptoms vary widely between individuals and over time. Symptoms tend to worsen gradually. Common signs and symptoms include difficulties with:
Other common signs and symptoms include:
Later in the course of the disease, memory problems may occur.
Experts don't understand what causes posterior cortical atrophy. Possible causes include Alzheimer's disease and Lewy body dementia. There are no identified genetic mutations found to cause the condition.
Further study is needed to determine whether the risk factors for Alzheimer's disease may play a role in posterior cortical atrophy.
Because the first symptoms are often visual, it's not uncommon for posterior cortical atrophy to be misdiagnosed as a vision disorder. It's important to see a neurologist who can correctly diagnose your condition.
To diagnose posterior cortical atrophy, your doctor will review your medical history and symptoms, including vision difficulties, and conduct a physical examination and a neurological examination.
Your doctor may order several tests to help diagnose your condition and exclude other conditions that may cause similar symptoms, including:
There are no treatments to cure or slow the progression of posterior cortical atrophy. While some research suggests that drugs commonly used to slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease may help manage symptoms of posterior cortical atrophy, this hasn't been proved and more research is needed.
Some therapies and medications can help you manage your condition. Treatment options to help manage symptoms of posterior cortical atrophy may include: