Neuro-ophthalmology is an academically-oriented subspecialty that merges the fields of neurology and ophthalmology, often dealing with complex systemic diseases that have manifestations in the visual system. Neuro-ophthalmologists initially complete a residency in either neurology, neurosurgery, or ophthalmology, then do a fellowship in the complementary field. Since diagnostic studies can be normal in patients with significant neuro-ophthalmic disease, a detailed medical history and physical exam is essential, and neuro-ophthalmologists often spend a significant amount of time with their patients.
Common pathology referred to a neuro-ophthalmologist includes afferent visual system disorders (e.g. optic neuritis, optic neuropathy, papilledema, brain tumors or strokes) and efferent visual system disorders (e.g. anisocoria, diplopia, ophthalmoplegia, ptosis, nystagmus, blepharospasm, seizures of the eye or eye muscles, and hemifacial spasm). The largest international society of neuro-ophthalmologists is the North American Neuro-Ophthalmological Society (NANOS), which organizes an annual meeting and publishes the Journal of Neuro-Ophthalmology. Neuro-ophthalmologists are often faculty at large university-based medical centers. Patients often have co-existing disease in other fields (rheumatology, endocrinology, oncology, cardiology, etc.), thus the neuro-ophthalmologist is often a liaison between the ophthalmology department and other departments in the medical center.