What is Neuro-ophthalmology?

Neuro-ophthalmologists take care of visual problems that are related to the nervous system; that is, visual problems that do not come from the eyes themselves. We use almost half of the brain for vision-related activities, including sight and moving the eyes. Neuro-ophthalmology, a subspecialty of both neurology and ophthalmology, requires specialized training and expertise in problems of the eye, brain, nerves and muscles.

Although some problems seen by neuro-ophthalmologists are not worrisome, other conditions can worsen and cause permanent visual loss, or become life threatening. Sometimes the problem is confined to the optic nerve or the nervous system and other times it is related to a general medical condition. Costly medical testing is often avoided by seeing a neuro-ophthalmologist.

Some of the common problems evaluated by a neuro-ophthalmologist include:

  • Optic nerve problems (such as optic neuritis and ischemic optic neuropathy)

  • Optic nerve swelling (in both children and adults)

  • Visual field loss

  • Unexplained visual loss

  • Transient visual loss

  • Double vision

  • Abnormal eye movements

  • Myasthenia gravis

  • Unequal pupil size

You may be referred by your GP, optometrist or specialist to a neuro-ophthalmologist for an evaluation of any of the above.