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International Foundation for Optic Nerve Disease

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Ischemic Optic Nerve Disease

In Ischemic Optic Neuropathy (ION) visual loss occurs when the optic nerve fails to receive a continuous, sufficient blood supply. The most common risk factors associated with ION are older age, diabetes, hypertension, and arteriosclerosis.

ION is the most common cause of sudden visual loss from optic nerve damage in persons over 50 years of age, affecting millions of persons in the United States. Ophthalmologists are therefore quite familiar with the clinical picture of a patient with reduced blood supply (ischemia) to the optic nerve. Urgent treatment is necessary to save vision if the cause is inflammatory blockage of arteries, but no treatment is yet available for the non inflammatory type.

Current studies, however, offer the hope of future drug treatment. Recently researchers have begun to study what happens between the loss of blood flow (perfusion) into the optic nerve, and the onset of irreversible visual loss. It is now known that a complex sequence of chemical events leading to a loss of oxygen and glucose in cells of the optic nerve ultimately results in a toxic overload of calcium (Ca) which leads to the destruction of optic nerve axons and the resultant visual loss. The chemical complexity of this process means that there is not just one, but a number of steps along the way before ischemia sets in, where different drugs might be able to prevent the ultimate destruction of optic nerve cells. Several laboratories are already working on therapeutic methods aimed at preventing visual loss in ION.


Ischemic Optic Neuropathy University of Iowa

What is Ischemic Optic Neuropathy? American Academy of Ophthalmology

Anterior Ischemic Optic Neuropathy Genetic and rare Diseases information Center

Ischemic Optic Neuropathy Merck Manual for 'Consumers' or 'Professionals'

Anterior Ischemic Optic Neuropathy Medscape [free registration required]


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The information contained on this website should not be considered medical guidance or professional advice. IFOND is not responsible for errors or omissions in information provided on this site or actions resulting from its use. IFOND does not publish all information from all available sources on optic nerve disease. IFOND is not responsible for the validity of the studies or reviews nor is it an advocate of studies or reviews mentioned on or linked from the IFOND web site. IFOND does not endorse or recommend participation in any particular clinical trial or treatment protocol which may be mentioned on this site. Direct any questions concerning your personal health to your appropriate health care professional.