Optic neuropathies are degenerative diseases of the retina that result from the destruction of the optic nerve. They can result either from an excess of intraocular pressure, as is the case for glaucoma, or from oxygen deprivation in the case of ischemia of the eye such as is the case with NAION. The optic nerve is made up of the axonal extensions of retinal neurons, and once damaged, these extensions degenerate and the neurons of the retina die.
The disappearance of neurons in the retina and the degeneration of the optic nerve result in a loss of vision because the transmission of electrical signals from the retina to the centers of vision, located at the back of the brain, is interrupted.
After cataracts, optic neuropathies are one of the leading cause of blindness in the world and affect millions of people. Today, glaucoma alone impacts more than 70 million people, nearly 10% of whom are blind.