Why Would An Eye Doctor Order An Mri?

Although it is recommended that adults have a thorough eye exam every couple of years most people ignore their eye health entirely until they notice that they are not seeing very well. It is very important to see an ophthalmologist every two years because they can save your life. They could notice that you are suffering for more than failing eyesight and in that case they will order an MRI. An MRI works a lot better than an X-ray. This is because Xrays are more about the bones. MRIs can see the tissue around the eyes and in the brain.

What conditions can an ophthalmologist diagnose with an MRI?

There are many different conditions that an MRI can bring to the fore including stroke, transient ischemic attack (mini-stroke) brain tumour, or myasthenia gravis. These are all life threatening conditions. Other conditions such as third cranial nerve palsy may show that you are having a brain aneurism and this can be serious because it causes bleeding in the brain which often leads to death. The ophthalmologist may be lead to conclude that you are suffering from any of these conditions due to symptoms such as drooping eye lid, dilated pupil (it shows that something is going on with your blood vessels) or even an in-turned eye. Your eye doctor may also diagnose a tumour of the optic nerve.

In some cases, patients experience in their visual fields. While they assume that it has something to do with failing vision an MRI could determine that they have a tumor of the pituitary gland this is a gland in the brain that controls hormones and if it has a tumor it could lead to many problems including severe mood swings. Although melanoma of the eye is rare it can sometimes be detected through an MRI it will lead to symptoms such as reduced eyesight, flashing lights and more.


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Soldiers who have been in combat and have suffered shrapnel injuries also need to get MRIs of their eyes. In some cases, shrapnel that entered through other areas of the body can move close to eyes and cause problems.

Can an optometrist order an MRI?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. If your optometrist suspects that something is wrong they will have to refer you to your doctor for an MRI. If your doctor is reluctant to perform one they can be if they suspect that your optometrist doesnt know what they are talking about you should immediately consult an ophthalmologist. They are qualified medical doctors and can order this test by their own right.

What does all this mean for you?

It means that you should not see your eye doctor when you need spectacles. They have the means to detect life threatening conditions before it is too late. The earlier you start getting treatment for the conditions that are mentioned here the more likely you are to save your life. If you havent had a proper eye exam by an ophthalmologist in the last 2 years you should schedule one as soon as possible.