The optic nerve connects the eye to the brain and carries visual signals from the retina that enables us to see. Consequently, any disease that damages this nerve can result in vision loss. A number of gene mutations lead to defects of such nerve conduction which may begin with damage to the nerve cells of the retina.
This type of optic atrophy is more aggressive than some other forms as symptoms may begin as early as 4-6 years of age and progresses rapidly. Vision even in children may be in the legal blindness range of 20/200. There may also be some constriction of side vision.
Several patients have had associated problems such as heart disease and hearing loss.
This is an autosomal recessive disorder resulting from the presence of two mutations, one contributed by each normal carrier parent. It has so far been found only in several Algerian families.
The diagnosis is usually made by an ophthalmologist or sometimes by a neurologist. The prognosis is highly variable but once the optic nerve is damaged, the vision loss is not reversible. No treatment is available for the optic nerve damage but low vision aids can be helpful for everyday tasks.