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Neuro-ophthalmology Disorders

  • What are Neuro-Ophthalmology Disorders?

    Neuro-ophthalmology disorders are vision problems that relate to the nervous system (brain, spine, nerves). Vision disturbances can be caused by abnormalities in the optic nerve, central nervous system (brain and spine), eyeball movement and pupil (opening in the centre of the eye).

    The optic nerve acts like an electrical cable that connects and brings visual information from the eye to the brain for processing. Optic nerve disorders include:

    • Compression (when a tumour or fluid build-up presses on the optic nerve)
    • Eye movement disorders:
      1. Diseases of the orbit (eye socket) that restrict movement
      2. Diseases that affect the nerves to the muscles, causing weakness
      3. Diseases that affect the transmission (sending) of signals between the nerve and muscle
      4. Diseases that affect the muscle
      5. Diseases that affect the parts of the brain that control movement
    • Ischaemia (inadequate blood supply)
    • Inflammation (swelling)
    • Trauma (injury)
    • Increased pressure in the brain
    • Glaucoma (increased pressure in the eye)
  • The causes of neuro-ophthalmology disorders vary depending on their types:

    • Compression may be caused by a tumour or fluid build-up in the brain
    • Reduced blood supply may be caused by hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes, hyperlipidaemia (high lipid levels) or smoking
    • Inflammation (swelling) is often related to diseases that affect other parts of the body, such as connective tissue disease and multiple sclerosis
  • The symptoms of neuro-ophthalmology disorders vary depending on their types:

    • Compression caused by a tumour – slow and painless vision loss
    • Eye movement disorders – double, blurred or shaky vision, giddiness, unsteady walk, headaches and weakness
    • Ischaemia (inadequate blood supply to the optic nerve) – rapid and painless vision loss
    • Inflammation (swelling) – rapid vision loss and problems with colour vision. If the optic nerve is involved, there may be pain behind your eyes
    • Trauma/injury – symptoms depend on the type and position of the injury
    • Increased pressure in the brain – headache with nausea or vomiting, temporary vision loss or neurological disturbances in other parts of your body, such as weakness or loss of balance

    The most common symptoms of neuro-ophthalmological disorders are vision loss or disturbance, unequal pupils, and eyelid and facial spasms/twitches.

  • Treatment of neuro-ophthalmology disorders depends on the type of disorder. You may be treated by an ophthalmologist (eye specialist) or you may be referred to a neurologist (brain and nerves specialist) or other specialists.

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