Optic Nerve Damage: What Happens When You Have This Condition?


A bundle of over a million nerve fibers carries visual messages from the eyes to the brain. This is the delicate and complex network that is your optic nerve. Located in the back of each eye, the optic nerve functions as a highway. So imagine if it were wrecked. It's like seeing an obstruction or a hole in the middle of a road. And no one or nothing can pass through its intended destination.

How Optic Atrophy Occurs

The term for damaged optic nerve is optic atrophy or neuropathy, which typically affects older adults. The damage can happen due to toxins, shock, and radiation. But it mostly occurs in two primary ways:

  1. Trauma or injury - direct injury to the optic nerve may be due to being punched in the eye, a vehicular accident, or a sports injury. Trauma could also result from a surgical complication of the brain, sinuses, or the eyes. You may experience pain and swelling in your eye, some vision loss that may worsen in days, and problems with seeing color.          

  1. Disease or medical condition - brain and central nervous system diseases may damage the optic nerve. Some of these diseases include multiple sclerosis, brain tumor, and stroke. Eye diseases also cause damage; the most common of which is glaucoma. In glaucoma, the built-up intraocular pressure will slowly affect the optic nerve, damaging it over time and eventually causing blindness.


The Symptoms and the Treatment

Visual acuity is a primary outcome of nerve damage. Initially, you may experience a transient ischemic attack, which is when your vision darkens for a few seconds and then resolves on its own. You may also start to see double or lose peripheral vision.

Some loss of color vision, as well as visual perception, may also occur when the optic nerve is damaged. Eventually, severe damage can result in vision loss in one or both eyes.

Pain the eyes or the face may also be felt.

Preventive eye care could help protect you from the effects of never damage. Comprehensive and consistent eye examinations will allow you to get ahead of any condition and get the necessary treatment. Your ophthalmologist may also recommend nutrition support for optic nerve health, which will provide your eyes with essential nutrients ensuring optimal function.

You can also strengthen your optic nerve by managing health issues, from diabetes to glaucoma, that cause the damage. Lifestyle changes also help lessen your risk of nerve damage. This would include managing how you work in front of the computer to prevent eye strain and protecting your eyes from UV rays.

Treatments will depend on the cause of the nerve damage. In most cases, doctors may prescribe oral medication and eye drops. Some surgery may be involved for people with glaucoma. Although the current belief is that once the nerve has been damaged, there is no way of reversing it. Most of the diseases that lead to optic nerve damage also don't have a cure.

But advancements in medical technology are paving the way for innovative procedures in repairing the optic nerve. One involves optic nerve regeneration, and the other is a system that bypasses the need for the nerve in producing vision.

As the world awaits these innovations to fully form and become widely available, you can start to protect your eyesight easily today. Get an eye exam and strengthen eye health. This way, you give the delicate bundle of nerves behind your eyes some fighting chance against trauma or diseases.

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