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Year : 2000  |  Volume : 48  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 171-94

Ischaemic optic neuropathy.

Ocular Vascular Division, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of Iowa, Iowa City, USA

Correspondence Address:
S S Hayreh
Ocular Vascular Division, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of Iowa, Iowa City
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

PMID: 11217249

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Ischaemic optic neuropathy is of two types: anterior (AION) and posterior (PION), the first involving the optic nerve head (ONH) and the second, the rest of the optic nerve. Pathogenetically AION and PION are very different diseases. AION represents an acute ischaemic disorder of the ONH supplied by the posterior ciliary artery (PCA), while PION has no specific location in the posterior part of the optic nerve and does not represent an ischaemic disorder of any definite artery. The most important step towards a logical understanding of the underlying causes, clinical features, pathogenesis and rational management of AION, is to understand the basic scientific issues involved; these are discussed in some detail. AION clinically is of two types: (1) that due to giant cell arteritis (arteritic AION: A-AION) and (2) non-arteritic AION (NA-AION). NA-AION, the more common of the two, is one of the most prevalent and visually crippling diseases in the middle-aged and elderly, and is potentially bilateral. NA-AION is a multifactorial disease, with many risk factors collectively contributing to its development. Although there is no known treatment for NA-AION, reduction of risk factors is important in decreasing chances of involvement of the second eye and of further episodes. Our studies have suggested that nocturnal arterial hypotension is an important risk factor for the development and progression of NA-AION. The role of nocturnal arterial hypotension in the pathogenesis of NA-AION and management of nocturnal hypotension is discussed. Potent antihypertensive drugs, when used aggressively and/or given at bedtime, are emerging as an important risk factor for nocturnal hypotension, and there is some evidence that NA-AION may be occurring as an iatrogenic disease in some individuals. A-AION, by contrast, is an ocular emergency and requires immediate treatment with systemic corticosteroids to prevent further visual loss. The clinical parameters which help to differentiate the two types of AION, and their respective management are discussed.

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