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Symptoms & Causes of Posterior Cortical Atrophy

Symptoms vary from individual to individual and will change as the disease progressesEarly on patients may experience subtle visual misperceptions —  when the person sees one thing as something else —  which, naturally, is thought to be a problem with their eyes or their glasses. However this is not the case.  

An individual with Posterior Cortical Atrophy (PCA) will notice these changes with vision develop gradually over months to years often leading to: 

  • Inability to recognize common objects 
  • Inability to judge spatial relationships or reach for objects accurately 
  • Difficulty using common items, like a phone. 
  • Difficulty finding things in plain sight 
  • Inability to read or write 
  • Inability to dress 
  • Other abilities controlled by the back parts of the brain, such as math abilities or discerning left from right, may be affected 

In the later stages of the disease patients are functionally blind, which means a person loses their sight. Though initially spared, other aspects of cognition such as memory, executive function, and language may eventually be affected. 

PCA is most commonly caused by Alzheimer’s Dementia. Other neurodegenerative disorders like Lewy Body Dementia, Corticobasal Degeneration, and prion disease (Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease) may rarely lead to this syndrome.

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