Ischemic Optic Neuropathy

What is Ischemic Optic Neuropathy?

How is it diagnosed”
What is the treatment?
Ischemic Optic Neuropathy is often associated with hypertension. This would be in 40% of the cases.

Other causes could be diabetes, at 20%
That leaves 40% due to other causes, which are really unknown. That is where I fall in, unknown cause of my disability.

Typically, this condition is seen in older persons, in the 70s or above.
For me, it happened when I was 64 years old. I was told I am very young to have this condition.

What happens when Ischemic Optic Neuropathy stirkes?
It is SUDDEN. One night you go to bed with normal vision, and in the morning you cannot see very well. My vision was blurred upon waking up one morning. I thought I just needed a good night’s rest. But, my vision never cleared up, and remained blurred. A visit to my eye doctor revealed I had a “big problem.” And, I was sent immediately to a specialist, and had emergency blood work done that day at the hospital.

It is characterized by acute, sudden vision loss, usually in one eye, and presents often with optic disc edema, blurred disc margins and flame-shaped retinal hemorrhages. An altitudinal visual field defect is also usually noted. If it is of the arteritic variety, then swollen, tender, temporal artery is involved along with pain on the side of the face between the outer eyes and ears. Lab tests and biopsy confirms the diagnosis. Treatment includes systemic steroid administration usually methylprednisone 1 gram IV each day for 3 days, then tapering the dosage until resolution. I was put on this medication immediately, and then had surgery for a temporal biopsy. I did not have the arteritic type of Ischemic Optic Neuropathy. I was thankful for that.

In my case it happened on January 1,2007 in my right eye. Then, ten months later, it happened in my left eye. More blood work, more steroids, and another surgery for biopsy followed the second episode. It is now 3 years since my journey into sight loss began.

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