What is Neuro Ophthalmology? – Overview
Good eyesight is essential to do everyday tasks. However, vision problems are quite common. According to reports, more than 150 million Americans wear some type of corrective eyewear.
It is estimated that more than half of people over 75 develop cataracts in one or both eyes. Apart from this, glaucoma affects over 2 million people over the age of 40 every year and more than 4 million Americans are visually impaired, with around 1.3 million being legally blind.
For many eye problems or routine eye exams, you can go to an optometrist or ophthalmologist.
Ophthalmology is a medical specialization that focuses on identifying, diagnosing, treating and preventing eye conditions.
These professionals are more trained than your optometrist and can diagnose and treat almost all eye problems and disorders. Some of these professionals even specialize in certain areas related to vision. This includes neuro ophthalmologists.
Their area of expertise focuses on eye problems that are caused by neurological conditions.
What Does a Neuro Ophthalmologist Do?
A neuro ophthalmologist is a specialist in neurology and ophthalmology. These professionals specialize in eye problems that are related to the nervous system. Such eye problems may include those caused by brain diseases or brain injuries, such as trauma, stroke or an infection.
Usually, these eye problems are not a great cause for concern, but at other times these can lead to serious complications, including loss of vision.
A neuro ophthalmologist can diagnose and treat neurological and systemic disorders that affect the movement and sight of your eyes.
They may prescribe different types of eye tests too, such as optical coherence tomography, multi-focal EGS, etc.
A neuro ophthalmologist usually provides the treatment according to the specific condition. This may include:
- Surgical procedures
- Corrective lenses
- Botox injections for muscle spasms
To become a neuro ophthalmologist, one needs to complete the following in sequence:
- Bachelor’s degree (4 years)
- Medical degree (4 years)
- Clinical training, residency and fellowship (min. 5 years)
Apart from this, one also has to become board-certified in ophthalmology, neurology, or both. Board certification refers to being up-to-date with the latest advancements in ophthalmology and neurology.
Some ophthalmologists choose to undergo additional training to perform eye surgeries, while others may pursue training in specialized vision testing.
When should you see a Neuro Ophthalmologist?
Neuro ophthalmologists are trained and experienced in diagnosing and treating numerous different eye problems and diseases.
Some of the most common conditions that may need a visit to a neuro ophthalmologist include:
- Eyelid abnormalities
- Double vision
- Myasthenia gravis
- Microvascular cranial nerve palsy (diabetic palsy)
- Optic nerve disorders
- Pseudo-tumor cerebri
- Thyroid eye disease
Besides this, you should see a neuro ophthalmologist if you experience any of the below-stated conditions:
Loss of visual acuity
Loss of clarity and sharpness in vision can be caused by several reasons, including retina issues, uncorrected refractive errors, or face problems with the optic nerve or inside your skulls, such as an aneurysm or tumor.
A neuro ophthalmologist can diagnose the problem and recommend effective treatment options.
Trouble moving the eyes
Problems preventing you from moving your eyes properly include myasthenia gravis or cranial nerve palsy. These often create vision problems.
You should immediately go to a neuro ophthalmologist if your eyes start shaking suddenly, as this can be a sign of the development of nystagmus.
This condition can create significant problems with depth perception, coordination and balance.
Tumors compressing optic nerves
You may not even notice any change in vision, but you may have a pituitary tumor, which is a type of tumor that develops within the skull.
This can press against the optic nerves and create vision problems in the future. Hence, it is important to visit a neuro ophthalmologist to get assured against loss of vision.
Pressure in the head
Pressure building inside the head can cause swelling in the optical nerves and eventually result in vision loss.
This condition can be a cause of brain tumors or pseudo-tumor cerebri. A neuro ophthalmologist can diagnose and treat this condition effectively.
Any sudden change in the size of your pupils can also be a sign of serious underlying problems, such as a brain aneurysm. Such conditions can affect more than just the eyes and need to be treated on time to prevent loss of vision and other severe complications.
A neuro ophthalmologist is trained to test and treat vision and eye problems that arise from disorders or diseases of the brain.
These professionals are trained in neurology and ophthalmology so they understand how to identify and treat sight problems that are caused by neurological conditions.
If you notice a problem with your eye, which is persistent and accompanied by other complications, it is highly recommended to visit a neuro ophthalmologist.