The optic nerve is the “nerve of vision” that extends from the brain, through your skull, and into your eye.

A portion of the optic nerve is enclosed in a rigid, bony tunnel as it exits the skull. Any condition that causes swelling or compression of the optic nerve at this location may lead to a loss of vision or blindness.

Endoscopic optic nerve decompression is a minimally invasive procedure used to relieve some of the pressure on the optic nerve and stabilize or improve vision by removing a portion of the bony optic canal. This procedure is done with the use of endoscopes (small rigid telescopes), allowing your surgeon to go through the nose and sinuses to perform this delicate surgery without any cuts to the face.

Who is a Candidate?

Optic nerve decompression can be used to treat any condition that is threatening or causing progressive vision loss due to significant pressure along the optic nerve near the optic canal, including:

  • Tumors (growths) within the eye that directly exert pressure on the nerve
  • Overgrowth of bone (fibro-osseous lesions), which may narrow the optic canal
  • Head injury or trauma

What to Expect

Endoscopic optic nerve decompression is a surgical procedure that is performed under a general anesthetic. Going through your nose, your surgeon will first perform endoscopic sinus surgery and open the sinuses directly beside the eye and optic nerve.

Once this is complete, a portion of the bone overlying the optic canal will be removed. This effectively enlarges the space of the bony canal, thereby “decompressing” the optic nerve and reducing the pressure on the nerve. There is usually no packing placed in the nose following surgery. You may be kept in hospital for close observation overnight.