Optic Nerve Glioma: Symptoms & Treatment

Instructor: Danielle Haak

Danielle has a PhD in Natural Resource Sciences and a MSc in Biological Sciences

The optic nerve is responsible for transmitting information from your eye to your brain, and a glioma is a tumor. Thus, optic nerve glioma is a type of brain tumor. Read this lesson to learn more, including symptoms and treatment options.

What is an Optic Nerve Glioma?

The optic nerve is the bundle of nerve fibers responsible for transmitting the information received in your eye so that it can be interpreted in the brain. Thus, it's a pretty important structure if you enjoy being able to see. A glioma is a type of brain tumor; they are usually named after the structure they are attached to, so in this case it would be a tumor on the optic nerve. Luckily, gliomas grow relatively slowly, more slowly than other types of brain tumors. Not so lucky is the fact that most optic nerve gliomas are found in people under the age of 20, so mostly children.

An X-ray scan of an optic nerve glioma (shown in white in the upper right of the picture).
optic nerve glioma

Symptoms of an Optic Nerve Glioma

This type of cancer is often found after disruptions to vision start occurring. This occurs when the tumor applies pressure to the nerve, cutting off the flow of information. Optic nerve gliomas also commonly cause problems balancing, nausea, and headaches. Less common symptoms can include involuntary eye movements, like eyes darting back and forth, trouble remembering things, drowsiness, lack of appetite, and stunted growth in kids. If the glioma interferes with hormone production, imbalances may also occur. Optic nerve gliomas may also affect the optic chiasm, which is the place the two optic nerves (one from each eye) cross right in front of the hypothalamus. Gliomas in this area can especially have an effect on hormone production.

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