Neuro-ophthalmology, a subspecialty of both neurology and ophthalmology, examines the relationship between the optic nerve and systemic disorders that affect vision and movement of the eye. Neuro-opthalmologists are able to evaluate and diagnose a variety of medical conditions with a neurology, ophthalmology and medical perspective.

Some of the disorders treated by neuro-ophthalmologists include:

Double Vision

Double vision, also known as diplopia, is a visual disturbance where two images of the same object are seen. This can occur in only one eye or in both, depending on the cause of the condition.

Causes of Double Vision

There are a number of reasons for the occurrence of double vision, some of them temporary and others an indication of an underlying condition that may include the following:

  • Cataracts
  • Weak eye muscles
  • Nerve palsy
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Corneal infection
  • Migraines
  • Tumors
  • Brain injury
  • Dry eyes
  • Surgical complication

Since some of the causes of double vision may be potentially serious, it is important to see a physician to determine the origin of the condition as soon as possible.

Ocular Migraine

An ocular migraine, also known as an ophthalmic migraine or retinal migraine, is a painless and temporary disturbance in vision that affects either one or both eyes. Ocular migraines usually resolve, without medication, within 20 to 30 minutes from the start of the occurrence. If the ocular migraine is accompanied by a throbbing headache, then it is classified as a migraine with an aura.

Causes of an Ocular Migraine

A classic migraine and an ocular migraine have causes that are similar. They may include:

  • A family history of migraines
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Diet
  • Smoking
  • Strong odors
  • Stress
  • Sleep deprivation

Symptoms of an Ocular Migraine

Ocular migraines have several visual symptoms which include:

  • A small blind spot that enlarges
  • Bright flashing or flickering lights
  • Wavy or zig-zag lines that surround the blind spot
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Nausea
  • Visual loss

Treatment of an Ocular Migraine

Ocular migraines tend to resolve on their own and usually require no treatment. An ocular migraine may be the indication of an underlying condition and a physician should be consulted.

Optic Neuritis

Optic neuritis is the inflammation of the optic nerve. The optic nerve swells, as a result of the inflammation, causing a sudden loss of vision in the eye that is affected. Optic neuritis can affect one eye or both eyes.

Causes of Optic Neuritis

While the exact cause of optic neuritis is unknown, it has been thought to be the result of a viral infection that triggers an autoimmune response. This causes the body to attack the protective myelin sheathing that covers the nerve, causing inflammation and damage. Other conditions considered to be triggers for the condition may include the following:

  • Viral infection
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Bacterial infection
  • Medication
  • Diabetes
  • Radiation therapy
  • Tumor
  • Nutritional deficiency

Symptoms of Optic Neuritis

Patients with optic neuritis may experience some of the following symptoms:

  • Blurred vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Eye pain
  • Loss of color vision
  • Rapid loss of vision
  • Pain
  • Headache

Diagnosis of Optic Neuritis

The doctor will be able to diagnose the patient’s condition after a thorough medical examination of the eyes as well with a series of tests such as:

  • Vision and color perception
  • Ophthalmoscopy
  • Pupillary light reaction test
  • Visual field testing
  • MRI
  • CT Scan
  • Lumbar puncture
  • Blood testing

Treatment of Optic Neuritis

Treatment for optic neuritis can vary depending on the severity of the condition. Many cases will improve on their own, while others may benefit from steroid medication to reduce inflammation and expedite the healing process. Steroids may be administered intravenously or orally. Once swelling has been relieved, visual symptoms usually subside as well and most patients are able to regain their vision within six months.

Multiple Sclerosis and Vision Conditions

Multiple sclerosis is a neurological disorder that affects the central nervous system, which includes the brain and the spinal cord. As the condition progresses and wears away the myelin sheathing, the protective covering of the nerves, the nerves become damaged and inflamed. The inflammation associated with multiple sclerosis can gradually affect a patient’s vision.

Symptoms of Vision Conditions of Multiple Sclerosis

Patients with multiple sclerosis may experience the following symptoms:

  • Blurred vision
  • Optic neuritis
  • Double vision
  • Nystagmus
  • Loss of color vision
  • Total loss of vision

Treatment of Vision Conditions of Multiple Sclerosis

Treatment for vision problems associated with multiple sclerosis may vary depending on the severity of the symptoms. Some cases will improve on their own, while others may benefit from the following treatments:

  • Steroid medication to reduce inflammation
  • Eye patching
  • Resting the eyes