Neurological health and vision go hand in hand, and when it comes to neurological disorders, a decline in vision can be one of many symptoms revealing an underlying health condition.
Neurological disorders can have a profound impact on your overall health. When it comes to vision loss, neurological disorders disturb key nerve and muscle functions responsible for controlling eyesight and eyelid movement. These disturbances can also impact optic nerve function, affecting how the brain sends and receives signals to and from your eyes. When these signals are interrupted, it may result in partial or complete vision loss.
With any neurological condition, early intervention is critical. Early diagnosis and treatment have been shown to effectively manage symptoms, prevent further decline, and, for some patients, restoration of vision. As with all neurological conditions, treatment is dependent on the specific patient and condition they are experiencing. Treatment could involve a multi-pronged approach ranging from non-invasive to minimally invasive techniques using medication, surgery, or lifestyle changes.
Common Neurological Disorders Linked to Vision Loss
Some vision loss can be due to nerve damage, brain damage, or muscle damage. Today, we now know several neurological disorders linked to vision loss. Here are the most common:
For many individuals diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, vision problems are often one of the first symptoms experienced.
And this is because multiple sclerosis is a disease of the central nervous system. The process starts when the immune system attacks the protective material around the nerves (myelin nerve sheaths), causing damage and scar tissue. This attack can prevent the brain from correctly sending signals throughout the body. For many, these symptoms can make day-to-day activities very difficult and painful.
Another complication that can occur with vision is the development of optic neuritis, which consists of inflammation of the optic nerve. This can manifest in various ways, such as blurred vision, loss of color vision, or complete vision loss (usually only in one eye). In most cases, vision can return with early intervention and treatment.
When it comes to MS, there is no single test to diagnose this disorder. Brain imaging, spinal fluid evaluation, and spinal cord imaging can be very helpful, but this is a clinical diagnosis. Getting referred to a neurologist is often the first step to confirming or eliminating the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis.
A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is reduced or blocked, preventing the brain from getting the oxygen and nutrients it needs. This disconnection can rapidly cause the death of brain cells, often causing long-term consequences. And, while there are multiple types of strokes, what most strokes have in common is their impact on an individual's vision.
Vision disruption and even vision loss are most common when experiencing a stroke. And although recovery of lost vision is possible with treatment, there are often permanent changes.
When it comes to stroke, it is a very serious medical emergency that requires immediate medical attention. If you think you are experiencing a stroke, access emergency services right away! With this condition, time is of the essence. If you believe you have previously experienced a stroke and are experiencing the after-effects, book an appointment with your neurologist right away.
Alzheimer's disease is a neurological disorder that causes nerve cells in the brain to die, resulting in the overall impairment of mental functioning. It is the most common type of dementia, directly causing vision loss due to the disease affecting the parts of the brain that handle processing visual information from the eyes. This often results in trouble with object recognition, loss of depth perception, and decreased peripheral vision. With this condition, the individual affected can have healthy eyes and still experience vision loss.
With this condition, the diagnosis process can be lengthy and require several types of tests. To diagnosis Alzheimer's and other dementia disorders, seeing a neurologist is crucial.
Tips to Maintain Eye Health
As I tell my patients, your eyes are an essential part of your overall health and connect to the other facets of your wellbeing. 90% of all the information that the body receives comes from 1 square inch of our bodies…our eyes! It is vital to schedule regular appointments with your eye doctor and contact a doctor right away if you notice any changes in your vision.
To prevent eye disorders or neurological disorders associated with vision loss, there are many lifestyle choices that you can make, such as:
• Eat a balanced and healthy diet
• Wear sunglasses outside
• Avoid smoking
• Get regular exercise and maintain a healthy weight
• Give your eyes a rest from screen time
• Know your family medical history
If you think you may be experiencing early signs of a neurological disorder, contact your neurologist right away. Early detection and treatment are paramount when dealing with any health concern.
A message from Dr. Kandel
"Changes in vision and vision loss are very serious things and should not be ignored. Ophthalmology evaluation and neurologic assessment are extremely important to preserve eyesight. Vision loss is one of the times in neurology that the quicker you act, the more successful you can be. Don't wait. See your neurologist/ophthalmologist ASAP if you were experiencing any of the above-listed symptoms!"
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If you have any questions about eye health and vision loss, or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact the Neurology Office for more help.
Neurology Office, Joseph Kandel M.D. and Associates
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