Neuro-Optometry Primer: The Brain

Three years ago, I noticed my then-17-year-old son, J. Taylor Gutierrez, was having difficulty running. I wondered whether the problem was neurological—so I dusted off some of my old neurology textbooks to refresh myself on neuro-screenings. To my dismay, he failed, and he has since been evaluated by his primary care physician and specialists. While we are waiting still for a definitive diagnosis, I have busied myself with reading the clinical literature on neuro-optometry. The more I learned, the more I realized how easy it would be to incorporate a neurological screening into my optometric practice. That effort gave rise to this primer, developed to encourage more optometrists to add aspects of neuro-optometry into their practices.

This primer is intended to accomplish the following:

  • Review the basics of neuroanatomy
  • Describe the clinical screenings that would be appropriate and easy to incorporate into an optometric practice
  • Help you explain to patients the critical connections between the eyes and the brain

Throughout the primer, you will find highlighted clinical pearls and definitions. The final page of the publication incorporates a neuro-optometric screening guide that can be used in your office.

What’s the benefit? There are multiple advantages, as I’ve learned in my own practice. First of all, these screenings take little additional time but have significant rewards in terms of patient education and awareness. Because neuro-optometry screening is more hands-on than other services we offer, be prepared to explain to patients what you’re doing and why. Patients will be intrigued. Many thank me for the thorough exam, saying they’ve learned something new. The ultimate benefit, however, would be the ability to detect a neurological problem. Every optometrist who has made a potentially life-saving or life-changing diagnosis knows how gratifying that can be—even when it’s difficult to share the news with the patient. There can be nothing more professionally rewarding than making an enormous difference in a patient’s life.

I dedicate this primer to my son and my optometric colleagues. I encourage you to consider adding neurooptometric screening in your practices.

Sponsored by HOYA, 2MEye, Vision Source, Cooper Vision, Your Eyes: The User's Guide.

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