Optic Atrophy refers to the death cell axons of the retinal ganglion region that consists of the optic nerve with the resulting picture of a pale optic nerve on funduscopy. Optic Atrophy is a terminal stage that arises from multiple causes of optic nerve damage along the path from the retina to the lateral geniculate. Optic Atrophy is linked to vision loss as the optic nerve transmits retinal information to the brain. Optic Atrophy is somewhat of a misnomer as atrophy indicates degeneration and optic nerve damage is better termed optic neuropathy.
Since the optic nerve is the conduit for information from the retina to the brain, a damaged optic nerve will result in vision loss. Subtle damage might not affect acuity but may lead to a loss of contrast or color vision. Severe damage may lead from legal blindness to no light perception. Loss of vision occurs in the respective visual field due to the damage to a part of the optic nerve. Removal of the damage causing factor before occurrence of apoptosis results in some improvement in visual function. A complete diagnosis based on optic nerve appearance, tests of visual function to identify the causative factor of the damage, and rule out other causes for vision loss.
Causes of optic atrophy
The optic nerve is composed of nerve fibers that transmit impulses to the brain. There could be some interference with the optic nerve’s ability to transmit these impulses, in the case of optic atrophy. Numerous factors can cause the interference, these include:
- Stroke of the optic nerve, known as anterior ischemic optic neuropathy
- A tumor that is pressing on the optic nerve
- Optic neuritis, an inflammation (swelling) of the optic nerve caused by multiple sclerosis
- A hereditary condition in which the person experiences loss of vision first in one eye, and then in the other (known as Leber’s hereditary optic neuropathy)
- Improper formation of the optic nerve, which is a congenital problem (the person is born with it)
Symptoms of optic atrophy
The symptoms of optic atrophy relate to a change in vision, specifically:
- Blurred vision
- Difficulties with peripheral (side) vision
- Difficulties with color vision
- A reduction in sharpness of vision
Determination of the cause for the optic nerve damage can be made with the help of certain disc appearances. Giant cell arteritis could possibly result in severe optic atrophy with gliosis in an elderly person. Glistening bodies and retinal folds may be left in the optic nerve head as a result of the damage from papilledema. Cupping is suggestive of glaucoma.
Optical Coherence Tomography has become a valuable tool to verify the status of the nerve fiber layer/ganglion axons. Quantification of the nerve fiber layer height and comparison with normative data can document axon loss and differentiate between optic nerve and retinal disease as a cause for vision loss.
There is no real cure or treatment for optic atrophy. Therefore, it’s important to have regular eye exams (especially if you have a family history of eye diseases), and to see your ophthalmologist immediately if you have any changes in your vision.
Optic Atrophy treatment in India at Sanjeevan relies on better functioning and better health of the optic nerve, with our treatment we stimulate the optic nerve which induces it to function better. Our treatment also helps improve the blood supply to the optic nerve which brings about the better health of the optic nerve. Our treatment helps in stopping the damage of the nerve cells between retinal ganglion cell axons and the lateral geniculate body (anterior visual system) thereby stopping any further degeneration of the optic nerve. Patients are better contrast sensitive after the treatment.