Optic Nerve

The optic nerve, also called cranial nerve II, is a vital portion of the visual pathway, connecting the cells of the retina with the visual cortex in the brain. The cell bodies of the optic nerve form the ganglion cell layer in the retina. The nerve fibers from these cells come together at the optic disk to form the optic nerve. The optic nerves from both eyes travel through their respective optic canals and meet to form the optic chiasm. The nasal fibers from each nerve separate to join the temporal fibers for the other eye and form optic tracts that eventually synapse at the visual cortex.

Disorders of the Optic Nerve

Damage to the optic nerve may be caused by a number of etiologies and results in blindness. Disorders of the optic nerve may be congenital or acquired. 

Congenital disorders of the optic nerve:

  • Autosomal dominant optic atrophy
  • Leber hereditary optic neuropathy

Acquired disorders of the optic nerve:

  • Glaucoma
  • Optic neuritis
  • Ischemic optic neuropathies
  • Papilledema
  • Optic nerve sheath meningiomas

Source: Pooshpas P, Nookala V. Anatomy, Head and Neck, Optic Canal. [Updated 2021 Aug 11]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK545167/