What is optical nerve glioma?

Optical nerve glioma is a brain tumor that affects the eyes. These tumors are found in the optic chiasm, where the left and right optic nerves cross. The disease can affect either one eye or both eyes. Optic nerve glioma is a rare cancer that is slow growing and is usually found in children. Blindness can occur, but only in about 5% of cases.

What causes optical nerve glioma? Who is affected?

The exact cause is unknown, but a genetic condition called neurofibromatosis type 1 (also known as NF1) can cause tumors to form. Optic pathway gliomas occur in about 15% of children with this disease.

Optical nerve glioma affects children and young adults. It is rare to see a diagnosis past the age of 20.

What are the symptoms of optical nerve glioma?

The symptoms of optic nerve glioma are caused by the tumor pressing against the nerves. Symptoms of optic nerve glioma are:

  • Involuntary eye movements
  • Memory impairment
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Growth delays
  • Headaches
  • Vision disturbances
  • Balance problems
  • Nausea and vomiting

How is optical nerve glioma treated?

Optic nerve glioma is treated in many ways depending on the severity of the case. Sometimes if it is not needed no treatment will be given and doctors will do MRI’s to make sure the size of the tumor does not get any bigger. The most common optical nerve glioma treatments are:

  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation
  • Corticosteroids

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