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What Is Ischemic Optic Neuropathy?

What Is Ischemic Optic Neuropathy?

This condition can cause long-term damage to the optic nerve—and irreversible damage to your vision.

You may think of blindness as a process that happens over time, but there are some conditions that can cause vision loss very quickly. One of them is called ischemic optic neuropathy.

Ischemic Optic Neuropathy: An Overview
Ischemic optic neuropathy is the sudden loss of vision due to the lack of blood flow to the eye. The optic nerve connects your eyes to your brain to turn visual information into images. When this nerve stops receiving the amount of blood it needs to work properly, the result is typically the irreversible loss of vision in the affected eye.

Ischemic optic neuropathy occurs when the blood supply to the eye’s optic nerve is blocked. This can occur one of two ways:

  1. Arteritic – Inflammation of the artery, AKA “giant cell arteritis”
  2. Nonarteritic – Reduced circulation of blood to the eye

The nonarteritic form of ischemic optic neuropathy can have a variety of causes, including diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and sleep apnea.

The main symptom of ischemic optic neuropathy is the loss of vision. This tends to happen very quickly, over the course of hours or even minutes. In most cases, vision is only lost in the affected eye, but the condition can spread to the other eye if left untreated. Although the thought of fast vision loss may sound excruciating, the process is actually painless.

Unfortunately, there is no treatment that can restore vision lost from ischemic optic neuropathy. However, there are measures that a doctor can take to prevent further vision loss in cases of arteritic ischemic optic neuropathy. The most common treatment is corticosteroids, taken either by mouth or by vein, to reduce inflammation of the artery and restore normal blood flow.

It is important to schedule regular comprehensive eye exams in order to maintain the health of your eyes. Your ophthalmologist can check for conditions like ischemic optic neuropathy and begin treatment if necessary to prevent future damage. The team at Sterling Vision is dedicated to providing the highest level of care, starting with a routine eye exam. To schedule an appointment with us, call 541-262-0597 or schedule online.