Neuro-ophthalmology is a subspecialty which combines ophthalmology and neurology, a discipline focusing on the nervous system. In this subspecialty the focus is on the interaction between the eyes, the brain and the nerves. The optic nerve carries visual information from the eye to the brain via complex system of structures including optic chiasm, where the optic nerves from each eye joint, the optic tract and the visual cortex, the area of the back of the brain which receives, joins and interprets the visual information. Neuro-ophthalmology also focuses on other nerves such as the nerves responsible for eye movements, ocular motor nerves, and nerves responsible for the sensation and movements of the face.
Neuro-ophthalmologists deal with diagnosis and treatment of conditions affecting the nerve pathways between the eyes and the brain. For example, common optic nerve problems include optic neuritis (inflammation of the optic nerve) and optic neuropathy (damage to the optic nerve). Patients may also suffer with abnormal eye movements, sudden unexplained visual loss or eye and vision problems following an injury for the brain as stroke. Various treatments are available based on the cause of the eye problems. Patients will often have regular tests and scans to monitor their vision.
Research is also important part of neuro-ophthalmology. One ongoing project called “Brain health in retired athletes” aims to find if there is connected between head injury and increased risk of brain disease such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.