Symptoms of PCA can vary from person to person and can change over time. Most people will have problems with their vision first, but some people may have problems with coordination, numbers, and language too.

Listen to our information about the symptoms of PCA or download the full audio



  • People may struggle to recognise objects out of the corner of their eye or might see many different objects close together as one object.
  • Surfaces and depth can look different. For example, a black object or puddle may appear to be a hole in the floor, or it may be difficult to find and reach for a door handle.
  • People may not always be able to see what is right in front of them and may bump into things.
  • Things may appear to have an unusual colour, appear distorted or look like they are moving around.
  • People may still see an image of an object after looking away, or not be able to see more than one object at a time.


People with PCA also have problems with:

  • Reading: Losing their place on a page, missing out lines, letters jumbling up or finding it hard to read certain fonts and handwriting. This can also affect everyday tasks like putting in a PIN on a cash machine.
  • Judging distances and depths: Crossing roads and using escalators or stairs can become difficult. Moving around can also be difficult if there are lots of shadows, lights or patterns. A person may reach out to grasp an object but miss it.
  • Spatial awareness: Some people may struggle with their sense of direction and terms like ‘left’ and ‘right’ may be harder to follow.
  • Recognition: Problems recognising objects or faces, especially when they are not in plain sight. People may experience problems reading clocks or signs, especially digital clocks or screens.
  • Light sensitivity: Finding bright light uncomfortable, including glare from shiny surfaces. People may have unusual colour experiences such as seeing patches of colour when it is dark.
  • Coordination: Problems with dressing, for example, having difficulty using buttons or zips, locating the sleeves of a jacket while dressing, or putting clothes on back to front. Objects like kitchen utensils and remote controls may become difficult to use.
  • Literacy: Finding spelling and writing hard. People can find it difficult to remember the shape or name of certain letters.
  • Numeracy: Problems with simple calculations and dealing with money such as small change.
  • Mood: Some people become low in mood, irritable or anxious, or may lose interest in things.


In PCA, the damage to brain cells spreads through the brain over time. This means that eventually a person’s memory, speech and problem-solving skills will be affected too. As symptoms progress, people will need more support in their daily life and help to look after themselves. This can take several years, but each person’s progression is different and unique.

What is posterior cortical atrophy?

Find out more about the symptoms and causes of posterior cortical atrophy, and the treatments currently available.

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This information was written in April 2021 and is due for review in April 2023. Please contact us if you would like a version with references.

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