Optic Neuropathy

What is optic neuropathy?

Optic nerves carry information from the eyes to the brain. Damage caused to the optic nerves disrupts the vision of the eye, and is termed optic neuropathy.

What causes optic neuropathy?

Optic neuropathy can occur from a lack of blood supply to the nerves. Some of the other causes of nerve damage may include radiation, trauma, glaucoma and conditions of the brain such as a tumour, multiple sclerosis and stroke.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms associated with this condition include loss of vision over a period in one or both eyes - severe cases may be characterized by complete blindness. The pupil’s ability to react to light is reduced and colors look faded. You may experience muscle pain, pain when you chew or comb your hair, and headaches.

How is optic neuropathy diagnosed?

Optic neuropathy can be diagnosed by a thorough examination of the eye which includes:

  • Tonometry (measurement of eye pressure)
  • Visual acuity (test to assess vision)
  • Color vision (test to assess perception of vision)
  • Pupil light reflex (test the eye’s reflex to light)
  • Imaging tests such as MRI and CT scans (to identify presence of tumors)

How can optic neuropathy be prevented?

The damage to the optic nerve cannot be reversed. Further loss of vision and blindness can be prevented by treating the underlying condition. Optic neuropathy can be prevented by protecting yourself against facial injuries, keeping blood pressure under control, especially in the elderly, and getting your eyes tested regularly.