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Optic nerve drusen
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Optic nerve drusen

Hi There

I have been diagnosied as having Optic Nerve Drusen (1 in each eye) and would like to get a generalised idea on how this will affect my vision.  I am 37 years old with 2 children.  

The diagnosis came after a routine eye examination, followed by further testing; optic nerve scans, field of visin tests, photographs, pressure tests, colourisation etc.  My optic nerves are paler and I've been told this is due to damage already caused by the drusen killing off some of the nerves.  I also have a 'blind spot' in my left eye/upper vision field.  I am due further testing in a year (this has been the first and is forming a benchmark) but have been told if I have a sudden loss of vision then to go straight back to my specialist.

Diabetes runs on my mothers side (now passed away), she also had catarracts removed from both eyes and drusen has never before been mentioned in my family.

Please advise if there is anything I can do to help prevent further damage, what the long term prognosis is, and what can be done should my eyesight deteriorate.

Many thanks in advance for your assistance.



Diane Pemberton
  
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First, I am not a drusen expert.  I am quite familiar with optic disc drusen, however.  By themselves, they are not a dangerous thing.  They can cause some crowding of the optic nerve and cause some compression of some of the optic nerve fibers and even the blood vessels of the optic nerve.  There is only so much room in the optic nerve head and these drusen are essential cellular waste products that accumulate - they really don't belong there and so there is less room for the vessels and nerve fibers.  Because of this, the patients can develop certain blind spots in their vision.  Again, there is not a lot you can do about it.  I do suggest to my patients that they work on the things that they can actually have an effect like keeping blood pressure and cholesterol under control, never smoking, living a healthy lifestyle, taking excellent vitamin supplements and if over 50 or so, you should probably take 81 mg aspirin a day if ok with your physician.  Basically, you  want to make sure the vessels in there are as healthy as possible to deal with any external stress put on them by the disc drusen.  If the intraocular pressure is elevated, I might be a little more aggressive about lowering pressure than in a nerve without drusen.  These are just a few thoughts.

MJK MD
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