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The optic disc or optic nerve head is the portion of the optic nerve which can be seen on examination of your eye. The optic nerve begins in the eye and is composed of 1,200,000 tiny nerve fibres that send signals from the eye to the brain. It is these nerve fibres that can be seen, almost end-on, within the eye.

Each nerve fibre receives visual signals from a certain area of retina and thus represents an area of your field of vision. Glaucoma causes damage to the nerve fibres. The loss of nerve fibres means that there will be a corresponding loss or defect in the visual field.

Normal Optic Disc

Eye care practitioners use special instruments to look at the back of your eye – a slit lamp or an ophthalmoscope. They are able to assess the health of your optic nerve by looking at the cup, colour and contour of your optic disc.

Next time you have an eye examination don’t be afraid to ask your eye care practitioner what they observe about your optic discs and whether there are changes. 

Click here to read an a full article from June 2008 Eyelights:
Your Glaucoma Eye Examination Part 2: Your Optic Disc

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