The enigma of nonarteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy: an update for the comprehensive ophthalmologist

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Nonarteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (NAION) is the most common cause of acute optic nerve injury, and frequently presents to comprehensive ophthalmologists. We review the typical and atypical clinical features and current literature on various treatment modalities for NAION.

Recent findings

The epidemiology and clinical presentation of this disease can be variable, making a definitive diagnosis difficult in many cases. In addition, the differential diagnoses for this disorder, although comprising much less prevalent entities, are quite broad and can have substantial systemic implications if these alternatives go unrecognized. NAION has many systemic associations and comorbidities that deserve inquiry when the diagnosis is made. There are currently no widely accepted, evidence-based treatments for NAION. All recommendations made to patients to reduce their risk of sequential eye involvement, including avoidance of potential nocturnal hypotension, erectile dysfunction medication, and treatment of obstructive sleep apnea, have theoretical bases.

Summary

NAION is a common cause of acute vision loss in adult and older patients, and thus, comprehensive ophthalmologists need to be able to diagnose and appropriately manage this disorder. We anticipate fruitful results from current and future trials aimed at neuroprotection in the affected eye and prevention of sequential eye involvement.

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