What are the Effects of Glaucoma on the Optic Nerve?

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  • Written By: Patti Kate
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 30 November 2019
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There are several effects of glaucoma on the optic nerve. Some of the ways glaucoma effects the optic nerve include vision impairment and increased eye pressure that may press against the optic nerve itself. When the optic nerve becomes irreparably damaged due to glaucoma, blindness may occur as a result.

Glaucoma is a progressive disease and is often defined as several diseases that produce the same condition. Glaucoma effects the eyes and often causes gradual loss of vision over time, if not caught in the early stages. The serious effects of glaucoma on the optic nerve may have several negative factors, the most significant being total loss of vision. The function of the optic nerve is to channel visualization. When this nerve has become weakened or damaged due to disease, such as glaucoma, vision may become blurred, altered, or severely impaired.

Another effect of glaucoma on the optic nerve is contraction of the blood vessels within the eye. When this occurs, redness and inflammation may be a result. The optic nerve damage from glaucoma may cause an appearance of bloodshot eyes. Pain over the eyes can also occur as an effect of glaucoma on the optic nerve.


Eyeball pressure is a direct effect of glaucoma on the optic nerve. The accumulating eyeball fluid that forms acts as a shield, although as a result, excess pressure builds on the nerve, causing distortion and impairment. Interocular pressure may cause the optic nerve to project incomplete images or blind spots in the individual's field of vision.

Flashes or rings of light appearing in front of the eyes are other effects of glaucoma on the optic nerve. Along with this visual disturbance, headaches are common. In some cases, the headaches may be accompanied by nausea and vomiting.

Effects of glaucoma on the optic nerve can also mean poor drainage from within the eye itself. The fluid may become backed up and cause swelling within the inner eye. In most cases, the eye may appear normal in appearance. When these symptoms occur, peripheral vision is typically affected.

When peripheral vision is impaired, the condition is often referred to as tunnel vision. The patient may notice a distinct difference in the angle or field of vision he is now experiencing. The narrow view is a direct result of optic nerve damage due to the glaucoma.

A large group of cells in the retina and optic nerve may deteriorate as a result of glaucoma. The destruction of these cells contributes to vision loss. In the early stages, cells may regenerate and repair themselves, however, advanced cases of glaucoma can often lead to irreversible damage.



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