Eyes are the door to the outside world, but what if your outside world comes with a blur?
The optic nerve behind your eyes is the most vital quotient for your vision as it helps the brain to visualize your perception, but glaucoma, tumor, injury, or blood loss can damage the optic nerve regions, leading to a blurred vision or permanent vision loss.
- What Is Optic Atrophy?
Optic nerve atrophy is a condition in which the optic nerve gets damaged and the type of atrophy depends on the cause. Optic nerve atrophy starts with a blur and leads to a gradual loss of vision, as the light that strikes the retina is not processed in the brain since the optic nerve fails to transmit signals properly. Any disease like glaucoma or macular degeneration that damages the retina and the sensitive nerve area behind it can cause optic atrophy. Environmental toxins, radiation, and trauma can also cause optic atrophy, but permanent blindness occurs in about 0.8 percent of the population suffering from optic atrophy.
- Causes and Symptoms of Optic Atrophy
Originating from the retina, the optic nerve has around 1.2 million myelinated neurons, which do not regenerate when damaged. Vision loss, due to optic nerve damage, is therefore generally an irreversible phenomenon.
Optic nerve atrophy can have the following causes:
As for the symptoms, the most common symptom of optic atrophy is a reduced field of vision with blurred spots. This change could be a sudden one or a gradual one with intermittent dimming. With time, this may develop specific blind spots or may lead to the loss of peripheral or central vision.
Prevention is the Best Cure
The best way to omit the risk of optic nerve atrophy is to prevent it. Getting regular eye exams from the ophthalmologist will help the doctor to notice changes in the color or structure of the retina, which may indicate damage to the optic nerve before it is too late. Once diagnosed, such indications can be determined and treatments can be accordingly devised. Some tests that can help in the determination of optic nerve damage are Color vision testing, tonometry, Visual acuity, and peripheral vision testing. Older adults should get a regular eye exam in addition to their blood pressure checkups. Also, people working in chemical factories or having jobs that are prone to occupational hazards should be extra careful of their eye safety and health.
- Can Regenerative Medicine cure the damage?
Once the optic nerve gets damaged and the vision is lost, it cannot be reversed using the conventional medication or laser treatments. Medical treatments can only slow down the progression of the underlying conditions, like blood vessel loss, to delay the progression toward blindness. Thus, it calls for the consideration of regenerative medicine.
Regenerative medicine using stem cells for repair and rejuvenation has the potential to regenerate new nerve cells and repair the damage in the optic nerve fibers. As per scientific studies, several reports have shown that regenerative therapy approaches promote axon regeneration for visual stimulation and more scientific advances are being achieved every year to target optic nerve regions directly for a better-focused regeneration capability.
Thus, although the normalized answer to the question of optic atrophy cure by regenerative medicine is a definitive YES, the major concern is the degree of a chronic condition. If a major portion of the optic nerve has been damaged, it is difficult for stem cell therapy to provide the necessary repair support for reversing the blind spot conditions. For such chronic cases, more research is required to assess the quantity and quality of cell therapy administration, before deciding on a clinical protocol. The good news is that regenerative therapies have proven successful in cases of mild optic nerve atrophy or in situations where doctors have just diagnosed an indication of the same. For more information on a regenerative cure for optic nerve atrophy, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.