What is Neuro-ophthalmology?

Merging the fields of neurology and ophthalmology, neuro-ophthalmology is a subspecialty dealing with diagnosing and treating any disease including nerve related vision problems . light reflects off an object, enters the eye and passes through your pupil hitting cells called photoceptors of the retina. Then the light is converted into electochemical signals by these special nerve-endings (photoceptors). These signals are transmitted to the brain with the optic nerve. The signals should be sent to the visual center in the back of the brain for an object to be seen. This whole process is what neuro-ophthalmology concerns itself with. The subspeciality plays a key role any disease related to  vision loss. When the fact that nerve tissue does not renegerate itself is taken into consideration it is critical to recieve a proper treatment before the damage is done.

What are the symptoms of neuro-ophthalmic diseases?

Unless treated promptly, these diseaes can cause total vision loss. Although many of them are similar, the most prominent symptoms are impaired or blurry vision or total loss of it. Vision loss occur over time. Transient  vision loss, pupil disorders or unequal pupils besides blur vision are some of many symptoms of the disease.

What are neuro-ophthalmic diseases?

  • Ischemic optic neuropathy (ION): when blood doesn’t flow properly to the eye’s optic nerve which causes lasting damage on it, vision loss is inevitable. Prompt intervention for the blood vessels to flow properly again is a critical step for this disease to be prevented. The blood flow to the optic nerve should not be blocked or reduced otherwise the optic nerve may not work properly and die eventually since it won’t receive enough oxygen and nutrition.
  • Optic neuritis:  This disease, more frequent in women, causes vision loss with eye pain.It can be strongly associated with MS (Multiple Sclerosis). With MS the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues. After the inflammation of the optic nerve’s covering, the optic nerve can’t work properly to transmit the information from eye to the brain. These patients complain that colours appear less bright or a smudge appear blurring the vision. Treatment with steroids and immunsystem supressors to reduce the risk of MS developing.
  • Papilledema: an optic disc swelling mainly caused by increased intracranial pressure. If fluid –CSF- surrounding the brain and spinal cord is produced excessively or not reabsorbed adequately the pressure increases.  Urgent treatment is to decrease intracranial pressure.
  • Diplopia : double vision. There are six eye muscles moving the eye. Nerves stimulate the muscles and both eyes are supposed to move simultaneously. Due to the improper movement of one or more eye muscles, eyes can not focus on the same point and each eye sees different images hence the patient will have double vision.

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