Neuro-ophthalmology is a specialty that is concerned with visual symptoms that occur as a result of a condition affecting the brain, for example, a stroke or a brain tumor. Brain tumors can affect people of any age, including children, although they tend to be more common in older adults, as do strokes. A stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is cut off. The brain is directly linked to the eyes via the optic nerve. This means that when the brain is adversely affected by a condition like a stroke or a tumor, patients can develop what is known as neurological vision disorders.
The visual symptoms of neurological vision disorders typically fall into one of two categories. These are difficulties with eye movements and vision loss.
Fortunately, there are treatments that can ensure that patients with neurological conditions receive the help needed to be able to enjoy a clear, concise vision. Here’s what you need to know about some of the key ways in which brain strokes or tumors could potentially affect your vision.
Our brain is responsible for controlling the movement of our eyes. Therefore, any brain injury or condition has the potential to impact the optic nerve, which is the communication highway between the brain and eyes. Strokes, tumors, and a variety of other issues can affect the messages that pass between the brain and eyes and the muscles that control eye movement, causing misalignment. When this happens, the eyes can no longer work in perfect synchronization and this can trigger a range of unpleasant and even debilitating symptoms including dizziness, headaches, blurred vision, and a complex condition called binocular vision dysfunction (BVD).
BVD is a visual condition where the line of sight from one eye tends to be slightly out of alignment with the sight from the other. This puts a great deal of strain on the eye muscles as they constantly try to correct the alignment in order to bring the eyes into a single point of focus. BVD causes a variety of symptoms, some of which can severely affect a patient’s quality of life. These include:
- Motion sickness
- Drifting while walking
- Headaches and migraines
- Face, jaw and neck pain
- Painful eye movements
- Difficulty driving
- Eye fatigue
- Double vision
- Visual vertigo
- Sensitivity to bright lights
- Anxiety that is caused by the symptoms that they are experiencing, such as visual overload triggering panic
- Poor sleep quality
If you are experiencing issues with the misalignment of your eyes, our team will be able to recommend treatments that will reduce the strain that the condition is placing onto your vision and eliminate man of the symptoms you are experiencing.
Some neurological conditions affect the optic nerve in such a way that it actually causes partial, complete, temporary, or even permanent vision loss. The optic nerve connects the brain to the eyes, sending messages from the eye up to the brain to tell us what we can see. Some neurological injuries can cause damage to your sight. For example, as many as two-thirds of stroke patients experience vision impairments as a result of their stroke. These could be central vision loss and visual field loss, and these are in addition to eye movement problems which may also occur. Similarly, as many as 1 in 3 patients with brain tumor report issues with their vision. These are often caused by pressure placed onto the optic nerve or swelling of the optic disc.
Precisely how your vision is affected will depend on the type and severity of your stroke or tumor. Some patients may develop vision loss very slowly and gradually, while for others, it will be much more rapid.
Since many neuro-ophthalmic conditions present similar symptoms, a thorough analysis of your eyes and vision is necessary to determine an accurate diagnosis before you can move forward with treatment. This process may involve visual acuity tests, MRI scans and physical assessments, which all provide valuable diagnostic information. Our team is highly trained and experienced in diagnosing neuro-ophthalmic disorders, including those which occur as a result of a stroke or brain tumor. If you have concerns that your vision may be affected by a neurological condition, please don’t hesitate to contact us to schedule a neuro-ophthalmic consultation.