Neuro-Ophthalmic Conditions

Myasthenia Gravis

Patients with myasthenia gravis (MG) typically experience the sensation of having "tired" eyes that appear to become droopy or sleepy-looking as the day progresses. They also report fatigue in their limbs, face and jaw. They may have trouble breathing, talking, chewing or swallowing.

MG is an autoimmune disease, meaning that the body seems to turn on itself, producing antibodies to destroy healthy tissue. Women tend to have MG more than men.
Many MG patients have eye disorders related to their condition. All of them require a thorough ophthalmologic exam as well as a careful family history because MG seems to run in families.
Though there is yet no cure for MG, medications have greatly improved the quality of life for patients. Other treatments, such as plasmapheresis, a technique that aims to clear the excess antibodies from the blood, is also a possibility for some patients.

Optic Nerve Disorders

A variety of neuro-ophthalmic illnesses affect the optic nerve. These include:
  • Optic neuropathy - this condition often affects the elderly and people with extensive arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). Patients usually go to their physician complaining of decreased vision. Treatment includes steroids to prevent further deterioration of the optic nerve

  • Optic neuritis - an inflammation of the optic nerve causing blurred vision and even temporary blindness. This condition is sometimes associated with multiple sclerosis. Persons who suspect they have this condition should see an ophthalmologist as soon as possible. Sometimes, optic neuropathies resolve on their own, but it is important to find out if there is any underlying illness.

  • Optic edema - swelling of the optic disc caused by an increase in intracranial pressure (papilledema) or by infection, inflammatory conditions or other conditions that create pressure in this area of the eye.Disc edema resulting from elevated intracranial pressure, generally exhibits a minimal acuity deficit, but may demonstrate transient visual obscurations associated with postural changes