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What is Papilledema?
♦ A floating black speck, resulting from an Papilledema can narrow the range of your This condition is known as pseudotumor be- enlarged blind spot in the field of vision, usually peripheral vision. Your doctor may check your cause it exhibits the same symptoms caused by a apilledema is a rare condition that involves the in both eyes. Everyone has a “blind spot” in the range of vision by tracking your eyes as they follow brain tumor, causing papilledema. A normal brain P swelling of the optic nerve due to
back of the eye where the optic nerve connects to a moving object, such as a pen light. Or he/she may scan indicates that the papilledema may be due to the retina. Normally, it is so small that involves looking through a lens and using a hand clicker to indicate how often you see flashing lights Because papilledema can result from such a wide variety of causes, it is very important that you see an ophthalmologist or neurologist as soon as you If your doctor diagnoses papilledema, he/she begin to notice possible symptoms of papilledema. will want to determine the cause by ordering tests that examine the brain: either a magnetic resonance
imaging (MRI) or a computed tomography (CT
Treatment varies depending on the causes of the Detection and
In addition, a spinal tap can measure the exact
pressure of the CSF within the central nervous sys- ♦ If a brain scan shows that you have a brain
tumor or lesion, your doctor will perform a
biopsy, followed by radiation treatments, laser papilledema. Using an instrument called an ophthal- The CSF circulates throughout the ventricles of moscope, your doctor can examine the optic nerve the brain and the cavity of the spinal cord. This fluid where it connects with the retina. (He/she may need Papilledema can result from a wide range of causes, ♦ Brain infections can be treated in a variety of
functions as a shock absorber for the central nervous to dilate your pupils first using eye drops.) ways, ranging from medication to surgery, system, protecting it from sudden jarring. The CSF depending on the severity of the condition. also surrounds the optic nerve that connects the ♦ High blood pressure (hypertension) can be
brain to the back of the eye through the retina. ♦ Brain infections such as brain abscess, meningi- controlled through medication and monitored by tis, or encephalitis—these can lead to brain a healthcare professional; however, if papille- Even a slight increase in intracranial pressure dema is present, immediate hospitalization may can compress and choke the optic nerve, pushing it into the back of the eyeball, causing papilledema. Papilledema almost always occurs bilaterally, that ♦ Inflammatory conditions such as multiple multiple sclerosis can be controlled through
anti-inflammatory agents such as steroid medi- cations (prednisone or methylprednisolone) or Symptoms
Pseudotumor cerebri
♦ A pseudotumor cerebri condition may be
Papilledema can also result from a much less serious treated by a repeat spinal tap to gradually relieve the increased cranial pressure by condition known as pseudotumor cerebri. In this
case, increased intracranial pressure results from an removing excess CSF. Your doctor may also overproduction of CSF rather than swelling of the prescribe certain medications such as acetazola- ♦ Brief episodes (30 seconds or less) where brain or other serious problems. This condition is mide (brand name Diamox) to decrease the vision in both eyes appears to be veiled in often seen in overweight teenage girls or women amount of CSF that your body is producing. who are experiencing hormonal changes due to men- Weight loss and a low fat diet may be recom- struation, pregnancy, use of birth control pills, or mended as well. Occasionally, surgery may be ♦ Visual blackouts caused by sudden change of required to reduce excess spinal fluid if other position (such as standing up suddenly, cough- ing, or straining of the chest or abdomen) Prognosis
See your doctor …
Contact your doctor immediately if you are
pregnant or are taking birth control pills and
Associates of
If the cause of papilledema is quickly identified if you experience any of the following symptoms, are experiencing any of these symptoms.
and treated, the swelling of the optic nerve may especially in combination with one another: gradually reduce in as soon as six-to-eight weeks. However, recovery make take longer depending ♦ Enlarged blind spots or vision “blackouts” on how much treatment is needed (particularly in For more information …
If you are diagnosed with pseudotumor cere- bri, your papilledema condition may be chronic ♦ Aetna InteliHealth at, Causes and Treatment
and could result in eventual loss of peripheral vision. Therefore, it is essential that you be moni- ♦ The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke at or call 800-352-9424. Glossary
♦ National Organization for Rare Disorders at or call 203-746-6481. Blind spot – area where the optic nerve
Ophthalmoscope – hand-held instrument
that shines a bright light into the pupil used to Brain lesion – injury to the brain.
Optic disk – optic nerve head where the optic
Cerebral edema – swelling of the brain due to
nerve enters the eyeball; appears as a small National Eye Institute, National Institute of Health Ref #NEA05 Central nervous system – brain and spinal
Optic nerve – short but thick neural pathway
that sends visual signals from the eye to the St. Luke’s Cataract and Laser Institute Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) – fluid that flows
through the ventricles of the brain, spinal cord, Papilledema – condition of increased cranial
pressure indicated by swelling of the optic CT or CAT scan – X-ray technique that uses
computer technology to show cross-sectional Peripheral vision – outside edge of the field
Intracranial pressure – pressure inside
Pseudotumor cerebri – condition in which
exerted on the brain, spinal cord, and optic papilledema is caused by the production of nerves, often caused by brain tumor or swelling, Retina – light-sensitive membrane covering the
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
back of the eye and attached to the optic nerve. Associates of
diagnostic technique that uses a magnetic field Washington
(rather than radiation) to produce pictures of Spinal tap – lumbar puncture performed to
measure pressure of cerebrospinal fluid. Ophthalmologist – physician specializing in the
Ventricles – spaces within the brain of the


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