Optic Nerve Drusen FAQs

Dr. Russel Lazarus, October 14, 2021

Over 1 in 50 of the population develop optic nerve drusen.

While a very small percentage of people are found to have optic nerve drusen, it’s important to know more about this eye condition.

Here are some frequently asked questions about optic nerve drusen that may help clarify your understanding and what you should do if you are found to have the condition.

Can optic nerve drusen cause vision loss?


Optic nerve drusen can cause mild side (peripheral) vision loss that can be detected by your eye doctor using a “visual field” analyzer.

The side vision loss is usually not appreciated by patients and not a functional concern. Rarely the drusen can cause severe, noticeable side vision loss.

What causes optic nerve drusen?

Optic nerve drusen are caused by an abnormal deposition of a protein-like substance in the optic nerve. The origin of what causes the abnormality is unknown.

Some people inherit optic nerve drusen, while others develop them without a family history.

How are optic nerve drusen diagnosed?

Optic nerve drusen are frequently discovered during a routine eye exam. When your eye doctor examines your optic nerve after dilatation, they may notice visible drusen.

Because some drusen in the optic nerve are “hidden,” so it may be necessary to utilize imaging (such as an ultrasound or CT scan), photography (fluorescein angiography), or optical coherence tomography (OCT) to diagnose buried drusen.

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Contact an eye doctor near you if you have a family history or drusen.

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Can the drusen get worse?

The number and size of drusen in the optic disc tend to grow with time.

Can this condition affect any family member?

Optic nerve drusen can be passed down through the family and affect first-degree relatives.

Patients who have been diagnosed with optic nerve drusen should disclose their diagnosis with their family members so that they can be screened. Drusen typically don’t appear in infants and children under the age of four.

Can optic nerve drusen be controlled?

Unfortunately, here is no proven or recognized method for preventing the optic nerve drusen from getting worse.

Is there any treatment for this condition?

No, currently, there is no proven treatment for optic nerve drusen.

If there is no treatment for optic disc drusen, why should I have regular eye exams?

Some patients with optic nerve drusen may develop choroidal neovascularization, the formation of new abnormal blood vessels close to the optic nerve, that are prone to bleeding.

If new blood vessels form, laser treatment may be required to avoid bleeding. This potentially dangerous problem should be checked on a regular basis.

Regular visual field testing is also required to monitor the progression of peripheral visual field loss.

LEARN MORE: Guide to Eye Health

Schedule an appointment with an eye doctor near you who can detect any underlying eye conditions.

These frequently asked questions about optic nerve drusen that may help clarify your chances of developing it and what you should do if you are found to have the condition.