What is it?

Optic nerve drusen are abnormal collections of protein and calcium that accumulate within the optic nerve. Drusen are often present in both eyes (bilateral), but sometimes occur in only one eye (unilateral).

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Signs & symptoms

Although optic nerve drusen do not usually affect vision, peripheral vision loss may occur. It is usually mild and goes unnoticed by the patient. Visual field exams may be performed to monitor for decreased peripheral vision in older children. Choroidal neovascular membranes are an extremely rare complication of optic nerve drusen. These membranes are a collection of abnormal blood vessels that grow beneath the retina near the optic nerve. These membranes may rarely bleed, in which case they can cause a sudden decrease in central or "straight ahead" vision.


Since they often lack symptoms, optic nerve drusen are usually found as an incidental finding by your ophthalmologist. They are usually diagnosed during your eye examination. Your ophthalmologist may observe obvious drusen after looking at your optic nerve following pharmacologic dilation. Obvious drusen are usually present on the surface of the optic nerve. Some optic nerve drusen are "buried" Buried drusen can be more difficult to observe and diagnosis may require the use of imaging (ultrasound or CT scan), photography (fluorescein angiography/autoflourescence), or optical coherence tomography (OCT). Drusen can be inherited, so it may be helpful to examine other family members.


There is no effective treatment for drusen. For the rare case of choroidal neovascularization laser treatment may be indicated to treat bleeding.

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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