Our vision is one of the greatest gifts any person can have. Sadly, some people suffer from vision impairments and they can worsen over time. Aging, injury, diseases, genetic conditions, many things can affect your vision. That’s why it’s important to regularly visit an optometrist. And sometimes, you need a specialist, like a neuro-optometrist.
You can find optometrists by searching on Google. You might search for a neuro-optometrist in Denver or a regular optometrist in Seattle, or wherever you’re residing. Before starting your search, however, it’s smart to brush up on some terms and understand what you’re getting into and what you need. For example, what is a Neuro-Optometrist and how are they different from regular optometrists? Let’s dig in.
The Difference Between Neuro-Optometrists and Regular Optometrists Explained
All optometrists are trained to identify, correct, and engage with a variety of vision-related conditions. Optometry school is tough to get into, and the education/training is quite intensive. As such, optometrists are generally smart, skilled, and talented people. However, different optometrists choose to focus their skills on different things.
A general optometrist focuses on functional vision problems and doesn’t require any additional training to practice. Some general optometrists also practice developmental or behavioral optometry, which is arguably a more holistic approach. Generalists can fit people for glasses and can help address minor issues, like a mild eye infection.
Many optometrists, however, choose to enroll in a residency program where they spend an extra year learning more specific skills. An optometrist might focus on pediatric care, for example, allowing them to better serve and treat children. Or, an optometrist might partake in a neuro-optometry residency.
Let’s take a look at neuro-optometry and how it’s different from general, functional optometry.
The Specifics of Neuro-Optometry
Some optometrists choose to undertake a neuro-optometry residency and will spend additional time learning about the field. Neuro-optometrists can devise individualized treatment regimes for people who suffer physical disabilities that impact vision. Sometimes, these disabilities are caused by traumatic injuries or diseases.
A general optometrist lacks the training needed to devise individual treatment plans that could address neurological vision interests. Using specialized skills, a neuro optometrist can provide more specific care and treatment.
Many people who suffer a traumatic brain injury will face eye-tracking difficulties and other vision-related issues. Even if the injury wasn’t severe, you may still suffer from a range of vision-related problems. Even a mild concussion, for example, can result in visual impairments.
How Neuro-Optometrists Test for Problems
Fortunately, a neuro-optometrist can help. Often, this starts with screening. A neuro optometry expert might start with simple “pursuits,” having you track a finger or pencil as it moves around. If the patient is struggling to fixate on the object, it may be due to neuro-related issues.
A neuro optometrist may also use near-point convergence, moving the object forward and backward. Other methods can also be used to test for problems, such as a cover/uncover test. And, of course, your neuro-optometrist will talk with you about any challenges you’re having day-to-day.
Once problems are identified, the neuro-optometrist can devise treatment plans. Let’s take a look at what that might look like.
Addressing Neuro-Optometry Issues
Neuro-optometrists specialize in developing customized treatment plans for patients. As such, no treatment regime is the same. That said, individual treatment plans do often feature a mix of commonly used treatment methods.
Often, a treatment plan will include a variety of therapeutic exercises to retrain your brain and eyes. This may include the following objects, for example. Practice makes perfect, so even if you struggle following an object now, with an optometrist’s guidance you may improve. The actual exercises themselves are developed according to the patient’s needs.
An optometrist can also use specialized prisms, filters, and lenses to aid in addressing your vision issues. When neuro optometrists undergo their residency program, they work with practiced hands who teach them how to develop the right treatment regime and exercises.
So if you’re having vision problems, it’s time to talk to an optometrist. And you may want to talk to a neuro-optometrist so that you can rely on their specialized skills. With vision impairments, time is of the essence, so best to get in touch right away.