Posted by: courtneygrapperhaus | January 17, 2016

Optic Nerve Drusen

Recently my husband went to visit the optometrist for his annual eye exam. After examining his eyes, the doctor found an “optic nerve head drusen (ONHD)” or “optic disc drusen”. The ophthalmologist then used an ophthalmoscope to take a deeper look and confirm the diagnosis. Everyone in the office was intrigued because the condition is very rare. In fact, only about 1% of the population has ONHD. Caucasians and those with a family history are more likely to be diagnosed with ONHD.

They sent him home and told him it is nothing to worry about but it is something they will keep an eye on (no pun intended). When he got home he asked if I knew anything about it. I did not so I decided to do a little research.

According to Wikipedia, “ONHD are globules of mucoproteins and mucopolysaccharides that progressively clacify in the optic disc.” So basically a bunch of proteins and calcium salt deposits are stuck in the optic nerve. Ewwww….sounds gross! But what are the implications of this? As it turns out it is not very serious, but can lead to some minor changes in vision.

Often the patient does not experience any symptoms. Also, a majority of the time ONHD is discovered incidentally during an eye exam (as was the case with my husband). “Optic nerve damage is progressive and insidious. Eventually 75% of patients will develop some peripheral field defects. These can include nasal step defects, enlarged blind spots, arcuate scotomas, sectoral field loss and altitudinal defects” (Wikipedia). “In rare cases, vascular complications such as flame hemorrhage, nonarteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropath, or peripapillary subretinal neovascularization can occur” (EyeWiki).

ONHD is progressive and there is no treatment. However, sometimes doctors will prescibe drops to reduce intra-ocular pressure. Overall, the most important thing for my husband is to continue going to annual eye exams and they will monitor the condition.

 

Sources:

Photos http://www.aapos.org/terms/conditions/82

Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Optic_disc_drusen

EyeWiki http://eyewiki.aao.org/Optic_nerve_head_drusen

AAO http://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/what-are-drusen

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