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Coloboma of optic nerve

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Coloboma of optic nerve
Autosomal dominant - en.svg
This condition is inherited in an autosomal dominant manner

Coloboma of optic nerve, is a rare defect of the optic nerve that causes moderate to severe visual field defects.

Coloboma of the optic nerve is a congenital anomaly of the optic disc in which there is a defect of the inferior aspect of the optic nerve. The issue stems from incomplete closure of the embryonic fissure while in utero. A varying amount of glial tissue typically fills the defect, manifests as a white mass.

Signs and symptoms

Vision in the affected eye is impaired, the degree of which depends on the size of the defect, and typically affects the visual field more than visual acuity. Additionally, there is an increased risk of serous retinal detachment, manifesting in 1/3 of patients. If retinal detachment does occur, it is usually not correctable and all sight is lost in the affected area of the eye, which may or may not involve the macula.


The first noticeable signs of the syndrome usually do not appear until after the first twelve months of the child’s life. The child usually has severe balance issues as he or she learns to sit or walk, often leaning or tilting the head toward the good eye to correct the brain’s skewed perception of the world. Often the child will fall in the same direction while walking or run into objects that are placed on his or her blind side. Additionally, family members may notice a white reflex in the pupil of an affected child instead of the normal red reflex when taking photographs. The presence of this phenomenon is dependent on the degree of the coloboma, with larger colobomas more likely to manifest this particular phenomenon.

This anomaly must be confirmed through pupillary dilation and examination of the optic disc, as the symptoms alone do not constitute a diagnosis.

People with optic nerve colobomas live relatively normal lives. Although non-prescription glasses should be worn for eye protection, this syndrome does not usually prevent the individual from living a normal life, driving cars, playing sports, reading, etc. Certain activities, however, may be more difficult for patients with optic nerve colobomas due to a compromised view of the world. Like most other eye conditions, a diagnosis of optic nerve coloboma precludes a person from certain occupations.

Comparison with morning glory disc anomaly

Although both optic nerve colobomas and morning glory disc anomaly (MGDA) involve mutations of the PAX6 gene, these two separate diseases represent two distinct causes. An optic nerve coloboma is easily differentiated from morning glory anomaly. Colobomas affect only the inferior aspect of the nerve as it represents an incomplete closure of the embryonic fissure, whereas MGDA encompasses all aspects of the nerve and represents more generally a dysgenesis of the mesoderm.


See also


External links

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