By Lauren R. Rosecan, M.D., Ph.D., F.A.C.S.
Ischemic optic neuropathy (ION) is when blood does not flow properly to your eye’s optic nerve, eventually causing lasting damage to this nerve. With ION, you suddenly lose your vision in one or both of your eyes.
The optic nerve carries signals from your eyes to the brain. Your brain then turns these signals into the images you see. When blood flow to the optic nerve is reduced or blocked, the nerve does not get enough oxygen or nutrition. The optic nerve stops working properly, and eventually dies.
ION can affect your central (detail) vision or side (peripheral) vision—or both. Because a damaged optic nerve cannot be fixed, any vision loss from ION is usually permanent. Usually, people with severe ION still have some peripheral vision.
What are symptoms of ION?
If blood flow to your optic nerve is reduced, your vision will darken for a few seconds or minutes then return to normal. This is called a transient ischemic attack (TIA). This kind of attack can happen before ION begins. If you have TIA symptoms, call your ophthalmologist or primary care doctor right away. Finding and treating the problem as soon as possible can help prevent further vision loss from ION.
Who Is at Risk for Getting ION?
While anyone can get ION, you are more likely to develop it if you:
are over 50 years old
have high blood pressure
have clogged arteries
have migraine headaches
have swelling of arteries in the head
(called temporal arteritis)
Ischemic Optic Neuropathy (ION) Diagnosis
Your ophthalmologist will do an eye exam to look for warning signs of ION. He or she will dilate (widen) your pupils with eye drops and then check for swelling of the optic nerve and blood vessels in the back of your eye.
Your ophthalmologist may also test your side (peripheral) vision and measure the fluid pressure within your eye.
Ischemic Optic Neuropathy (ION) Treatment
If your ION is caused by swelling of arteries in your head (temporal arteritis), your ophthalmologist may have you take steroid (prednisone) pills. This medicine may prevent ION from developing in your other eye.
Your doctor may want to treat any other health problems you have that put you at risk for ION. He or she may prescribe medicine for high blood pressure, diabetes, clogged arteries, migraine headaches, or other health problems.
There is no treatment to improve vision loss from ION. However, your ophthalmologist may suggest useful materials and ways to help you see with low vision.
Lauren R. Rosecan
M.D., Ph.D., F.A.C.S.
The Retina Institute of Florida with four offices
conveniently located in Palm Beach and Martin Counties.
Toll Free Phone Number:
West Palm Beach
901 North Flagler Drive, 33401.
(561) 832-4411 Office. (561) 832-1591 Fax
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11382 Prosperity Farms Rd., #128, 33410.
(561) 627-7311 Office. (561) 627-6791 Fax
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(772) 287-7026 Office. (772) 220-4186 Fax
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