100% Optical

On stage at 100% Optical: neural change following retinal damage

Dr Sam Strong told OT  what delegates at 100% Optical can expect from her session, considering the impact of retinal damage on the brain

In the lead-up to 100% Optical 2023 in February, OT reached out to a selection of speakers from the education programme to find out more about the sessions on offer, the topics that will be explored, and what visitors can expect. Find the full series, along with further content, on 100% Optical on OT’s dedicated page.

What is the focus of your session?

The session is designed to be a light, but hopefully thought-provoking, delve into the wonderful world of neuroscience. We know that the afferent information from the eyes is what neurons in the brain use to help us ‘see’, but what happens if that input is diminished or lost through retinal change? This session will discuss the type of neural change that might happen following retinal pathology/damage, along with a definition of what that means in terms of patient outcomes.

What are some of the key messages you wish to highlight?

For me, the key message is that there's evidence of cortical changes along the visual pathway for a variety of different conditions, including albinism, age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and retinal detachment, but that these changes take a while to manifest and so it seems that it would be associated with long-term disease progression.

The session is designed to be a light, but hopefully thought-provoking, delve into the wonderful world of neuroscience


Who is this topic for? Who might benefit the most from joining?

This topic is going to be ideal for anyone who has a little interest in the brain. Also, my goal is to explain everything in as simple terms as possible, so if you're interested in the session but feel a little intimidated by the content then please be reassured that it will be friendly – and we can always chat afterwards if you have any specific questions.

Why is this topic so important for optometrists to engage with?

It will help optometrists to answer patient queries if they ask about the long-term implications of vision loss.

What do you hope the top takeaway will be for attendees?

Long-term retinal changes can lead to associated changes in the brain, and this could be an important consideration when screening, referring, and treating patients.