Posterior cortical atrophy is a rare, degenerative brain and nervous system disorder (neurological condition) that results in gradually declining vision. Common symptoms include difficulties with reading, judging distances, and recognizing objects and familiar faces.

This condition may eventually cause your memory and thinking abilities (cognitive skills) to decline. Posterior cortical atrophy may be associated with Alzheimer's disease, Lewy body dementia or other neurological conditions.

  • Expertise and experience. Mayo Clinic doctors trained in brain and nervous system conditions (neurologists) have expertise and experience diagnosing and treating posterior cortical atrophy and other neurological conditions.
  • Team approach. Mayo Clinic neurologists work with doctors trained in eye conditions (ophthalmologists), mental health conditions (psychiatrists), imaging (radiologists), sleep medicine and physical medicine to treat your condition.
  • Individualized treatment. Mayo Clinic doctors work with you to develop the most appropriate treatment for you.
  • Research. Mayo Clinic doctors study potential diagnostic tests and treatments for posterior cortical atrophy and other neurological conditions, and conduct clinical trials.

Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., ranks #1 for neurology and neurosurgery in the U.S. News & World Report Best Hospitals rankings. Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz., is ranked among the Best Hospitals for neurology and neurosurgery, and Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., is ranked high performing for neurology and neurosurgery by U.S. News & World Report.

At Mayo Clinic, we assemble a team of specialists who take the time to listen and thoroughly understand your health issues and concerns. We tailor the care you receive to your personal health care needs. You can trust our specialists to collaborate and offer you the best possible outcomes, safety and service.

Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit medical institution that reinvests all earnings into improving medical practice, research and education. We're constantly involved in innovation and medical research, finding solutions to improve your care and quality of life. Your doctor or someone on your medical team is likely involved in research related to your condition.

Our patients tell us that the quality of their interactions, our attention to detail and the efficiency of their visits mean health care — and trusted answers — like they've never experienced.

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Mayo Clinic neurologists have experience diagnosing posterior cortical atrophy. Neurologists work with doctors trained in eye conditions (ophthalmologists), mental health conditions (psychiatrists), imaging (radiologists) and others to diagnose your condition.

During your visit, 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.

  • Mental status and neuropsychological tests. Your doctor will ask you questions and conduct tests to assess your cognitive skills. You may have psychiatric assessments to test for depression or other mental illnesses.
  • Blood tests. Your blood may be tested for vitamin deficiency, thyroid disorders and other conditions that may be causing your symptoms.
  • Ophthalmology examination. Your doctor will conduct a vision test to determine whether another condition is causing your vision symptoms.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). An MRI machine uses powerful radio waves and a magnetic field to create a three-dimensional view of your brain. In this test, your doctor can view abnormalities in your brain that may be causing your symptoms.
  • Positive emission tomography (PET) or single-photon emission computerized tomography (SPECT). In these tests, a doctor injects a small amount of radioactive material and places emission detectors on your brain. PET provides visual images of brain activity. SPECT measures blood flow to various regions of your brain.

Mayo Clinic neurologists and other specialists care for people who have posterior cortical atrophy. Doctors work with you to develop the most appropriate treatment for your condition.

Posterior cortical atrophy can't be cured, but doctors will help you manage your condition. Your doctor may give you medications to treat your symptoms. You may benefit from physical or occupational therapy. Your doctor will coordinate your care with your primary doctor.

Mayo Clinic works with hundreds of insurance companies and is an in-network provider for millions of people. In most cases, Mayo Clinic doesn't require a physician referral. Some insurers require referrals or may have additional requirements for certain medical care. All appointments are prioritized on the basis of medical need.

Doctors trained in neurology, ophthalmology, psychiatry and psychology, and other areas evaluate and treat people who have posterior cortical atrophy and related conditions at Mayo Clinic's campus in Arizona.

Mayo Clinic's campus in Arizona is part of the Arizona Alzheimer's Consortium, a statewide research collaboration that studies ways to detect, treat and prevent Alzheimer's disease and related conditions.

For appointments or more information, call the Central Appointment Office at 800-446-2279 (toll-free) 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mountain Standard Time, Monday through Friday or complete an online appointment request form.

Doctors trained in neurology, ophthalmology, psychiatry and psychology, and other areas evaluate and treat people who have posterior cortical atrophy and related conditions at Mayo Clinic's campus in Florida.

Staff in the Memory Disorder Clinic conducts research and cares for people who have memory disorders. The neurosciences research program actively conducts research in Alzheimer's disease and related conditions.

For appointments or more information, call the Central Appointment Office at 904-953-0853 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday or complete an online appointment request form.

Doctors trained in neurology, ophthalmology, psychiatry and psychology, neuroradiology, sleep medicine, physical medicine and rehabilitation, and other areas care for people who have posterior cortical atrophy and related conditions at Mayo Clinic's campus in Minnesota.

For appointments or more information, call the Central Appointment Office at 507-538-3270 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Central time, Monday through Friday or complete an online appointment request form.

See information on patient services at the three Mayo Clinic locations, including transportation options and lodging.

Mayo Clinic doctors trained in brain and nervous system conditions (neurologists), mental health conditions (psychiatrists), eye conditions (ophthalmologists) and others study posterior cortical atrophy. Researchers study risk factors, predictors, diagnostic techniques and potential treatments for posterior cortical atrophy, Alzheimer's disease and other conditions. Read more about Mayo Clinic Alzheimer's disease research and ophthalmology research in low vision rehabilitation.

The Mayo Clinic Alzheimer's Disease Research Center located at Mayo Clinic's campuses in Minnesota and Florida is one of 34 Alzheimer's Disease Centers (ADCs) in the United States designated and funded by the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health. Mayo Clinic's campus in Arizona is part of the Arizona Alzheimer's Consortium, a statewide research collaboration. You may have the opportunity to participate in clinical trials at Mayo Clinic.

See a list of publications by Mayo Clinic doctors on posterior cortical atrophy on PubMed, a service of the National Library of Medicine.

Dec. 13, 2014