Optic nerve
Overview
The optic nerve, also called cranial nerve 2, transmits visual information from the retina
Retina
The vertebrate retina is a light-sensitive tissue lining the inner surface of the eye. The optics of the eye create an image of the visual world on the retina, which serves much the same function as the film in a camera. Light striking the retina initiates a cascade of chemical and electrical...

 to the brain
Brain
The brain is the center of the nervous system in all vertebrate and most invertebrate animals—only a few primitive invertebrates such as sponges, jellyfish, sea squirts and starfishes do not have one. It is located in the head, usually close to primary sensory apparatus such as vision, hearing,...

. Derived from the embryo
Embryo
An embryo is a multicellular diploid eukaryote in its earliest stage of development, from the time of first cell division until birth, hatching, or germination...

nic retinal ganglion cell, a diverticulum located in the diencephalon
Diencephalon
The diencephalon is the region of the vertebrate neural tube which gives rise to posterior forebrain structures. In development, the forebrain develops from the prosencephalon, the most anterior vesicle of the neural tube which later forms both the diencephalon and the...

, the optic nerve doesn't regenerate after transection.
The optic nerve is the second of twelve paired cranial nerves but is considered to be part of the central nervous system
Central nervous system
The central nervous system is the part of the nervous system that integrates the information that it receives from, and coordinates the activity of, all parts of the bodies of bilaterian animals—that is, all multicellular animals except sponges and radially symmetric animals such as jellyfish...

, as it is derived from an outpouching of the diencephalon
Diencephalon
The diencephalon is the region of the vertebrate neural tube which gives rise to posterior forebrain structures. In development, the forebrain develops from the prosencephalon, the most anterior vesicle of the neural tube which later forms both the diencephalon and the...

 during embryonic development.
Encyclopedia
The optic nerve, also called cranial nerve 2, transmits visual information from the retina
Retina
The vertebrate retina is a light-sensitive tissue lining the inner surface of the eye. The optics of the eye create an image of the visual world on the retina, which serves much the same function as the film in a camera. Light striking the retina initiates a cascade of chemical and electrical...

 to the brain
Brain
The brain is the center of the nervous system in all vertebrate and most invertebrate animals—only a few primitive invertebrates such as sponges, jellyfish, sea squirts and starfishes do not have one. It is located in the head, usually close to primary sensory apparatus such as vision, hearing,...

. Derived from the embryo
Embryo
An embryo is a multicellular diploid eukaryote in its earliest stage of development, from the time of first cell division until birth, hatching, or germination...

nic retinal ganglion cell, a diverticulum located in the diencephalon
Diencephalon
The diencephalon is the region of the vertebrate neural tube which gives rise to posterior forebrain structures. In development, the forebrain develops from the prosencephalon, the most anterior vesicle of the neural tube which later forms both the diencephalon and the...

, the optic nerve doesn't regenerate after transection.

Anatomy

The optic nerve is the second of twelve paired cranial nerves but is considered to be part of the central nervous system
Central nervous system
The central nervous system is the part of the nervous system that integrates the information that it receives from, and coordinates the activity of, all parts of the bodies of bilaterian animals—that is, all multicellular animals except sponges and radially symmetric animals such as jellyfish...

, as it is derived from an outpouching of the diencephalon
Diencephalon
The diencephalon is the region of the vertebrate neural tube which gives rise to posterior forebrain structures. In development, the forebrain develops from the prosencephalon, the most anterior vesicle of the neural tube which later forms both the diencephalon and the...

 during embryonic development. As a consequence, the fibres are covered with myelin produced by oligodendrocyte
Oligodendrocyte
Oligodendrocytes , or oligodendroglia , are a type of brain cell. They are a variety of neuroglia. Their main function is the insulation of axons in the central nervous system of some vertebrates...

s, rather than Schwann cell
Schwann cell
Schwann cells or neurolemmocytes are the principal glia of the peripheral nervous system . Glial cells function to support neurons and in the PNS, also include satellite cells, olfactory ensheathing cells, enteric glia and glia that reside at sensory nerve endings, such as the Pacinian corpuscle...

s, which are found in the peripheral nervous system
Peripheral nervous system
The peripheral nervous system consists of the nerves and ganglia outside of the brain and spinal cord. The main function of the PNS is to connect the central nervous system to the limbs and organs. Unlike the CNS, the PNS is not protected by the bone of spine and skull, or by the blood–brain...

, and are encased within the meninges
Meninges
The meninges is the system of membranes which envelopes the central nervous system. The meninges consist of three layers: the dura mater, the arachnoid mater, and the pia mater. The primary function of the meninges and of the cerebrospinal fluid is to protect the central nervous system.-Dura...

. The name "optic nerve
Nerve
A peripheral nerve, or simply nerve, is an enclosed, cable-like bundle of peripheral axons . A nerve provides a common pathway for the electrochemical nerve impulses that are transmitted along each of the axons. Nerves are found only in the peripheral nervous system...

" is, in the technical sense, a misnomer, as the optic system lies within the central nervous system
Central nervous system
The central nervous system is the part of the nervous system that integrates the information that it receives from, and coordinates the activity of, all parts of the bodies of bilaterian animals—that is, all multicellular animals except sponges and radially symmetric animals such as jellyfish...

 and therefore should be named the "optic tract," as nerves exist only, by definition, within the peripheral nervous system
Peripheral nervous system
The peripheral nervous system consists of the nerves and ganglia outside of the brain and spinal cord. The main function of the PNS is to connect the central nervous system to the limbs and organs. Unlike the CNS, the PNS is not protected by the bone of spine and skull, or by the blood–brain...

. Therefore, peripheral neuropathies like Guillain-Barré syndrome
Guillain-Barré syndrome
Guillain–Barré syndrome , sometimes called Landry's paralysis, is an acute inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy , a disorder affecting the peripheral nervous system. Ascending paralysis, weakness beginning in the feet and hands and migrating towards the trunk, is the most typical symptom...

 do not affect the optic nerve.

The optic nerve is ensheathed in all three meningeal
Meninges
The meninges is the system of membranes which envelopes the central nervous system. The meninges consist of three layers: the dura mater, the arachnoid mater, and the pia mater. The primary function of the meninges and of the cerebrospinal fluid is to protect the central nervous system.-Dura...

 layers (dura
Dura mater
The dura mater , or dura, is the outermost of the three layers of the meninges surrounding the brain and spinal cord. It is derived from Mesoderm. The other two meningeal layers are the pia mater and the arachnoid mater. The dura surrounds the brain and the spinal cord and is responsible for...

, arachnoid
Arachnoid mater
The arachnoid mater, literally from Latin "spider -like mother", is one of the three meninges, the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord...

, and pia mater
Pia mater
Pia mater often referred to as simply the pia, is the delicate innermost layer of the meninges, the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord. The word finds its roots in Latin, meaning literally "tender mother." The other two meningeal membranes are the dura mater and the arachnoid mater....

) rather than the epineurium
Epineurium
The epineurium is the outermost layer of connective tissue surrounding a peripheral nerve. It is made of dense irregular connective tissue and usually contains multiple nerve fascicles as well as blood vessels which supply the nerve...

, perineurium
Perineurium
In the peripheral nervous system, nerve fibers are each wrapped in a protective sheath known as the endoneurium. These are bundled together into groups known as fascicles, each surrounded by a protective sheath known as the perineurium. Several fascicles may be in turn bundled together with a blood...

, and endoneurium
Endoneurium
The endoneurium, also referred to as an endoneurial channel, sheath or tube, is a layer of delicate connective tissue made up of endoneurial cells that encloses the myelin sheath of a spinal cord nerve fiber. These are bundled up into groups called nerve fascicles, which have a protective sheath...

 found in peripheral nerves. Fibre tracks of the mammalian central nervous system (as opposed to the peripheral nervous system) are incapable of regeneration, and, hence, optic nerve damage produces irreversible blindness. The fibres from the retina
Retina
The vertebrate retina is a light-sensitive tissue lining the inner surface of the eye. The optics of the eye create an image of the visual world on the retina, which serves much the same function as the film in a camera. Light striking the retina initiates a cascade of chemical and electrical...

 run along the optic nerve to nine primary visual nuclei in the brain, whence a major relay inputs into the primary visual cortex.

The optic nerve is composed of retina
Retina
The vertebrate retina is a light-sensitive tissue lining the inner surface of the eye. The optics of the eye create an image of the visual world on the retina, which serves much the same function as the film in a camera. Light striking the retina initiates a cascade of chemical and electrical...

l ganglion cell
Ganglion cell
A retinal ganglion cell is a type of neuron located near the inner surface of the retina of the eye. It receives visual information from photoreceptors via two intermediate neuron types: bipolar cells and amacrine cells...

 axons and support cells. It leaves the orbit
Orbit (anatomy)
In anatomy, the orbit is the cavity or socket of the skull in which the eye and its appendages are situated. "Orbit" can refer to the bony socket, or it can also be used to imply the contents...

 (eye socket) via the optic canal, running postero-medially towards the optic chiasm
Optic chiasm
The optic chiasm or optic chiasma is the part of the brain where the optic nerves partially cross...

, where there is a partial decussation (crossing) of fibres from the nasal
Temple (anatomy)
Temple indicates the side of the head behind the eyes. The bone beneath is the temporal bone as well as part of the sphenoid bone.-Anatomy:Cladists classify land vertebrates based on the presence of an upper hole, a lower hole, both, or neither in the cover of dermal bone which formerly covered the...

 visual fields of both eyes. Most of the axon
Axon
An axon is a long, slender projection of a nerve cell, or neuron, that conducts electrical impulses away from the neuron's cell body or soma....

s of the optic nerve terminate in the lateral geniculate nucleus
Lateral geniculate nucleus
The lateral geniculate nucleus is the primary relay center for visual information received from the retina of the eye. The LGN is found inside the thalamus of the brain....

 from where information is relayed to the visual cortex, while other axons terminate in the pretectal nucleus and are involved in reflexive eye movements. Other axons terminate in the suprachiasmatic nucleus
Suprachiasmatic nucleus
The suprachiasmatic nucleus or nuclei, abbreviated SCN, is a tiny region on the brain's midline, situated directly above the optic chiasm. It is responsible for controlling circadian rhythms...

 and are involved in regulating the sleep-wake cycle. Its diameter increases from about 1.6 mm within the eye to 3.5 mm in the orbit to 4.5 mm within the cranial space. The optic nerve component lengths are 1 mm in the globe, 24 mm in the orbit, 9 mm in the optic canal, and 16 mm in the cranial space before joining the optic chiasm. There, partial decussation occurs, and about 53% of the fibers cross to form the optic tracts. Most of these fibres terminate in the lateral geniculate body.

From the lateral geniculate body, fibers of the optic radiation
Optic radiation
The optic radiation is a collection of axons from relay neurons in the lateral geniculate nucleus of the thalamus carrying visual information to the visual cortex along the calcarine fissure.There is one such tract on each side of the brain.-Parts:A distinctive...

 pass to the visual cortex
Visual cortex
The visual cortex of the brain is the part of the cerebral cortex responsible for processing visual information. It is located in the occipital lobe, in the back of the brain....

 in the occipital lobe
Occipital lobe
The occipital lobe is the visual processing center of the mammalian brain containing most of the anatomical region of the visual cortex. The primary visual cortex is Brodmann area 17, commonly called V1...

 of the brain. In more specific terms, fibers carrying information from the contralateral superior visual field traverse Meyer's loop to terminate in the lingual gyrus below the calcarine fissure in the occipital lobe, and fibers carrying information from the contralateral inferior visual field terminate more superiorly.

Physiology

The eye's blind spot
Blind spot (vision)
A blind spot, also known as a scotoma, is an obscuration of the visual field. A particular blind spot known as the blindspot, or physiological blind spot, or punctum caecum in medical literature, is the place in the visual field that corresponds to the lack of light-detecting photoreceptor cells on...

 is a result of the absence of photoreceptors in the area of the retina where the optic nerve leaves the eye.

Each optic nerve contains around 1.2 million nerve fibers, which are axons of the retinal ganglion cells of one retina. In the fovea
Fovea
The fovea centralis, also generally known as the fovea , is a part of the eye, located in the center of the macula region of the retina....

, which has high acuity, these ganglion cells connect to as few as 5 photoreceptor cells; in other areas of retina, they connect to many thousand photoreceptors.

Role in disease

Damage to the optic nerve typically causes permanent and potentially severe loss of vision
Visual perception
Visual perception is the ability to interpret information and surroundings from the effects of visible light reaching the eye. The resulting perception is also known as eyesight, sight, or vision...

, as well as an abnormal pupillary reflex, which is diagnostically important. The type of visual field
Visual field
The term visual field is sometimes used as a synonym to field of view, though they do not designate the same thing. The visual field is the "spatial array of visual sensations available to observation in introspectionist psychological experiments", while 'field of view' "refers to the physical...

 loss will depend on which portions of the optic nerve were damaged. In general:
  • Damage proximal to the optic chiasm causes loss of vision in the visual field of the same side only.
  • Damage in the chiasm causes loss of vision laterally in both visual fields (bitemporal hemianopia). It may occur in large pituitary adenoma
    Pituitary adenoma
    Pituitary adenomas are tumors that occur in the pituitary gland, and account for about 15% of intracranial neoplasms. Tumors which exceed 10 mm in size are defined as macroadenomas, and those smaller than 10 mm are referred to as microadenomas...

    ta.
  • Damage distal to the chiasm causes loss of vision in one eye but affecting both visual fields: The visual field affected is located on the opposite side of the lesion.


Injury to the optic nerve can be the result of congenital or inheritable problems like Leber's Hereditary Optic Neuropathy
Leber's hereditary optic neuropathy
Leber’s hereditary optic neuropathy or Leber optic atrophy is a mitochondrially inherited degeneration of retinal ganglion cells and their axons that leads to an acute or subacute loss of central vision; this affects predominantly young adult males...

, glaucoma, trauma, toxicity, inflammation, ischemia, infection (very rarely), or compression from tumors or aneurysms. By far, the three most common injuries to the optic nerve are from glaucoma, optic neuritis (especially in those younger than 50 years of age), and anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (usually in those older than 50).

Glaucoma
Glaucoma
Glaucoma is an eye disorder in which the optic nerve suffers damage, permanently damaging vision in the affected eye and progressing to complete blindness if untreated. It is often, but not always, associated with increased pressure of the fluid in the eye...

 is a group of diseases involving loss of retinal ganglion cell
Ganglion cell
A retinal ganglion cell is a type of neuron located near the inner surface of the retina of the eye. It receives visual information from photoreceptors via two intermediate neuron types: bipolar cells and amacrine cells...

s causing optic neuropathy  in a pattern of peripheral vision
Peripheral vision
Peripheral vision is a part of vision that occurs outside the very center of gaze. There is a broad set of non-central points in the field of view that is included in the notion of peripheral vision...

 loss, initially sparing central vision.

Optic neuritis
Optic neuritis
Optic neuritis is the inflammation of the optic nerve that may cause a complete or partial loss of vision.-Causes:The optic nerve comprises axons that emerge from the retina of the eye and carry visual information to the primary visual nuclei, most of which is relayed to the occipital cortex of the...

 is inflammation of the optic nerve. It is associated with a number of diseases, the most notable one being multiple sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis is an inflammatory disease in which the fatty myelin sheaths around the axons of the brain and spinal cord are damaged, leading to demyelination and scarring as well as a broad spectrum of signs and symptoms...

.

Anterior Ischemic Optic Neuropathy
Anterior ischemic optic neuropathy
Anterior ischemic optic neuropathy is a medical condition involving loss of vision due to damage to the optic nerve from insufficient blood supply. AION is generally divided into two types: arteritic AION and non-arteritic AION...

 is a particular type of infarct that affects patients with an anatomical predisposition and cardiovascular risk factors.

Optic nerve hypoplasia
Optic nerve hypoplasia
Optic nerve hypoplasia is a medical condition arising from the underdevelopment of the optic nerve. This condition is the most common congenital optic nerve anomaly. The optic disc appears abnormally small, because not all the optic nerve axons have developed properly...

 is the under-development of the optic nerve causing little to no vision in the affected eye.

Ophthalmologists, in particular, those sub-specialists that are neuro-ophthalmologists, are often best suited to diagnose and treat diseases of the optic nerve.

The International Foundation for Optic Nerve Diseases IFOND sponsors research and information on a variety of optic nerve disorders and may provide general direction.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
x
OK