Background/Aims: Visual deficits are frequent in Alzheimer’s disease (AD), yet little is known about the nature of these disturbances. The aim of the present study was to investigate color discrimination in patients with AD to determine whether impairment of this visual function is a cognitive or perceptive/sensory disturbance. Methods: A cross-sectional clinical study was conducted in a specialized dementia unit on 20 patients with mild/moderate AD and 21 age-matched normal controls. Color discrimination was measured by the Farnsworth-Munsell 100 hue test. Cognitive functioning was measured with the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) and a comprehensive battery of neuropsychological tests. The scores obtained on the color discrimination test were compared between AD patients and controls adjusting for global and domain-specific cognitive performance. Results: Color discrimination performance was inversely related to MMSE score. AD patients had a higher number of errors in color discrimination than controls (mean ± SD total error score: 442.4 ± 84.5 vs. 304.1 ± 45.9). This trend persisted even after adjustment for MMSE score and cognitive performance on specific cognitive domains. Conclusions: A specific reduction of color discrimination capacity is present in AD patients. This deficit does not solely depend upon cognitive impairment, and involvement of the primary visual cortex and/or retinal ganglionar cells may be contributory.

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