The optic nerves relay messages from your eyes to your brain to create visual images. They play a crucial role in your ability to see. Millions of nerve fibers make up each optic nerve. Damage to an optic nerve can lead to vision loss in one or both eyes.
The optic nerve is comprised of millions of nerve fibers that send visual messages to your brain to help you see. You have an optic nerve at the back of each eye that connects directly to your brain.
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The optic nerve transmits electrical impulses from your eyes to your brain. Your brain processes this sensory information so that you can see.
The optic nerve is the second of 12 cranial nerves. Each eye has its own optic nerve.
The optic nerve:
The OR pathways carry nerve messages to a part of your brain called the visual cortex. The visual cortex processes sensory information for sight.
Each optic nerve has branches that travel to your brain or join with other fibers. When the two optic nerves cross at the optic chiasm:
These conditions can damage an optic nerve and affect vision:
Optic nerve problems cause various symptoms depending on the underlying condition. The symptoms may be temporary or permanent. You may experience:
These steps can help protect your vision:
You should call your healthcare provider if you experience:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Your optic nerves are vital to your eyesight. Damage to these nerves can lead to temporary or permanent vision loss. Glaucoma is the most common optic nerve disorder. If left untreated, optic nerve damage can lead to blindness. Regular eye exams are essential to protect your sight and stop optic nerve damage before it gets too severe.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 01/07/2022.
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