Functions, Diseases and Importance of the Optic Nerve
The optic nerve consists of more than 1 million bundled nerve fibers. Each of your eyes has its own optic nerve. The nerve connects the eye to the brain. Many health problems can lead to optic nerve damage. It is important to recognize vision changes and symptoms so that you can get a prompt eye exam at a Las Vegas family eye carecenter.
Functions of the Optic Nerve
The optic nerve receives impulses from the rods and cones in your retina. The cones perceive color and relay that information as a specific type of electrical pulse. The rods detect light, and they send a different type of electrical pulse. Those pulses are sent to the cortex of your brain that is responsible for interpreting visual information.
Anatomy of the Optic Nerve
The optic nerve is part of your central nervous system. It is technically an extension of the brain, and it is classified as cranial nerve II. The nerve is covered with myelin and sheathed in meninges, which protects it from conditions such as Guillain–Barré syndrome, which damages peripheral nerves. The cells in the optic nerve cannot regenerate. If they are damaged or destroyed, they cannot be repaired or replaced. This means that any damage to your optic nerve is permanent. The vision loss caused by the damage is also permanent.
Diseases of the Optic Nerve
Damage to the optic nerve can result from other health conditions. If you have untreated diabetes or glaucoma, your optic nerve may be damaged enough to cause you to lose vision or become blind. Other diseases affecting the optic nerve include optic neuritis, which is an inflammation of the nerve and optic nerve atrophy, which is wasting away of the nerve. The atrophy may result from exposure to toxins, acute injuries or poor blood flow. Rarely, brain tumors affect the optic nerve.