What is Optic Nerve Decompression?

Optic nerve decompression is a surgical procedure performed to prevent vision loss caused by pressure on the optic nerve. The optic nerve is responsible for sending visual information from the eye to the brain. Tumors or other conditions such as intracranial hypertension can compress or cause swelling of the optic nerve and potentially lead to blindness. Surgery aims to relieve pressure by allowing excess spinal fluid to drain or by creating space for the optic nerve to expand.

Depending on your condition, optic nerve decompression may involve removing a piece of the bone surrounding the nerve or cutting the optic nerve sheath, which covers the nerve. For patients with bony growths or tumors that are compressing the nerve, bone removal will be performed. This procedure may involve a thin tube with a camera, or endoscope, which is inserted through the nose. This allows the surgeon to access the optic nerve and remove bone without a large incision.

For patients with intracranial hypertension, a procedure called optic nerve sheath fenestration is used. During this procedure, your surgeon will make incisions in the eyelid to expose the sheath. This allows the sheath to be cut and for excess spinal fluid to be released.

Following surgery, you will need to stay in the hospital for a few days for monitoring. Risks associated with surgery include vision loss, bleeding, and infection. However, if successful, optic nerve decompression can prevent further vision loss and potentially restore vision.