Optic nerve pit, also called optic disc pit is a depression of the optic disc, which is the result of a malformation during the eye’s development.
Optic pits are most closely related to retinal detachments and posterior vitreous detachments (PVD). Since optic pits occur during development, those that are affected are born with them. It usually only affects one eye, though 15% of children that have optic pits develop them in both eyes. Optic nerve pits are most often discovered during routine eye exams by the use of a slit lamp or an ophthalmoscope.
Optic nerve pit is an increasingly rare condition and is only reported in about 1 in 11,000 children with no gender specification. The condition has been known to be generally sporadic when it occurs, though research has found that there could be some possible signs of inheritance in families where multiple members are affected.
As well, no specific gene has been associated with the onset of the condition, further supporting the claims that it is sporadically developed in most cases.
Unless an optic pit is disrupting vision, a patient that has them will generally experience no symptoms at all, making it difficult to diagnose.
Through the research of the condition, there have been known to be exceptions to this, though. For example, some cases of optic nerve pit have been known to cause visual field defects like blindspots. Additionally, when an optic nerve pit is disrupted by maculopathy, it can result in significant deterioration of vision.
Optic disc pit maculopathy (ODP-M) is a general term to describe the macular changes that occur during an optic nerve pit. These changes fluid buildup and pigment changes inside the retina. ODP-M occurs in between 25-75% of patients that have an optic nerve pit.
Just like with the development of the optic nerve pit, there is no known trigger of the onset of ODP-M, and because of this it generally develops sporadically.
ODP-M has also been proven to reduce visual acuity to around 20/70 or worse. The majority of prognoses have reported steadily worsening vision with a final visual acuity around 20/200, while some cases have reported a spontaneous improvement in vision.
Because of its risk of vision loss, ODP-M is considered a serious medical condition and should be treated immediately. A variety of different methods have been developed to help treat ODP-M.
One such method, an intravitreal gas tamponade, has been used with a good success rate. A gas tamponade in cooperation with laser photocoagulation is a minimally invasive, and clinically proven way to treat ODP-M.
Optic nerve pits, in short, are exceedingly rare defects in the eye that can result in vision impairment if left untreated. The best course of action is to schedule regular eye appointments with your children, as a child born with the condition might not even know they have it.
If you or your child are affected by an optic nerve pit, don’t worry! All you need to do is talk to your doctor to find the best treatment option for you. While ODP-M might seem like a daunting condition, it is treatable, and with a doctor’s help, you can get the treatment you need to see the world clearly again!
If you are experiencing any form of vision impairment, or are concerned about the state of your eyes, talk to your eye doctor today.