OPTIC NERVE HEAD DRUSEN
Optic nerve head drusen may also be known as optic disc drusen, and is a condition that affects the optic discs in the eye. The optic disc is the region at the back of the eye where the optic nerve can be found, and it does not contain any light receptor cells. It is, effectively, a blind spot within the visual field. The blood vessels that supply the eye also enter through the optic disc.
Optic nerve head drusen occurs when molecules of protein and large sugars build up and calcify in this region of the eye. This can lead to a range of symptoms and eventually the loss of vision. Blindness may result in some cases, but not all.
The condition affects approximately 1 percent of the population, but people with a family history of optic nerve head drusen are at a greater risk. The majority of patients will experience symptoms in both eyes (which may be described as bilateral; one eye would be considered unilateral). Both men and women are equally affected, while ethnic background appears to play a role in the risk of developing the condition, with Caucasians being the most likely to receive this diagnosis.
While the majority of eye disorders are associated with older adults, optic disc drusen can be found in children. However, it is difficult to diagnose at this age, because the only visible sign is a slightly raised optic disc. The condition is progressive and will start to produce some reduction in the visual field during the teenage years. The peripheral field is more commonly affected than the centre of the visual field, although the exact defects will vary.
It is not possible to cure optic nerve head drusen, which is a progressive disease. However, there are a number of treatments which can slow the progression and help to prevent further complications from arising. Regular eye examinations are necessary, to check for deterioration of the visual field. Eyedrops will often be prescribed to keep the intraocular pressure at a suitable level, because this can rise as a result of the condition. Laser treatment may also be necessary in order to prevent bleeding from the small blood vessels supplying the retina, and the resulting scarring, which may occur over time.