Optic disc drusen: understanding an old problem from a new perspective

Steffen Hamann, Lasse Malmqvist, Fiona Costello
Acta Ophthalmologica 2018, 96 (7): 673-684
Optic disc drusen (ODD) are acellular deposits located in the optic nerve head of up to 2.4% of the population. They may develop as by-products of impaired axonal metabolism in genetically predisposed individuals, in whom a narrow scleral canal is hypothesized to play a role. Although ODD are often considered as benign innocent bystanders, recognized as part of a routine ophthalmological examination, the vast majority of patients with ODD have visual field defects. Optic disc drusen (ODD)-associated complications with severe visual loss, most often due to anterior ischaemic optic neuropathy, are also known to occur. There are no treatments available to prevent or ameliorate the vision loss caused by ODD. In children, the ODD are usually uncalcified and buried within the optic nerve head tissue. In these cases, the condition can be difficult to diagnose, as it often resembles a papilloedema with optic nerve head swelling caused by raised intracranial pressure. During the teenage years, the ODD progressively become more calcified and probably also larger, which allow them to be visible on ophthalmoscopy. With the advent and proper utilization of high-resolution modalities of optical coherence tomography (OCT), it has now become possible to detect even the smallest and most deeply located ODD. This allows for ODD detection at a much earlier developmental stage than has previously been possible and enhances the possibilities of research in underlying mechanisms. A review of the literature on ODD was conducted using the PUBMED database. The review focuses on the current knowledge regarding pathogenesis, diagnostics, clinical disease-tracking methodologies, structure-function relationships and treatment strategies of ODD.

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