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There are various ways in which the optic nerve can be damaged. Some are congenital( present since birth) while some are acquired ( occur after birth). Optic nerve can damaged due to optic nerve atrophy, optic neuropathy following glaucoma
, optic neuritis
Optic atrophy is a painless chronic condition in which there is irreversible damage to the optic nerve fibres. The vision reduces gradually and permanently. Causes include glaucoma, optic neuritis/papilledema,ischemic( reduced blood flow),retinal disorders. There is no known treatment for optic atrophy. Low visual aids
are recommended for using the remaining vision in the best possible way.
Optic neuritis is sudden in onset and is characterised by sudden loss of vision in one eye. It can occur following various systemic infections, inflammatory conditions of the eye. Treatment is with high dose of steroids.
Papilledema is painless swelling of the optic nerve head due to raised intracranial pressure.
Since you have had an eye exam by an ophthalmologist
, I guess he was referring to age related optic atrophy. All other conditions of the optic nerve would have had some predisposing eye disease along with their symptoms. As you have not mentioned any change in vision, I guess the optic nerve fibres are still not damaged to any large extent. It is better to discuss with your ophthalmologist about what exactly is the nature of the optic nerve involvement and its probable cause ( from the above mentioned list of conditions).
Please feel free to ask follow up questions if any.
Thank you and best wishes.
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Views expressed are for information purpose only and cannot substitute a visit to an ophthalmologist