An optic nerve glioma (also called an optic pathway glioma) is a slow-growing brain tumor that arises in or around the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain. As the tumor progresses, it presses on the optic nerve, causing a child’s vision to worsen. Blindness can occur, but only in about 5 percent of cases. While these are serious tumors, they have a high cure rate.
Children with optic nerve glioma are treated at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center through our Glioma Program. Continue reading to learn more about optic nerve glioma or visit the Glioma Program homepage to learn about our expertise and treatment options for this condition.
Nearly 75 percent of optic nerve gliomas, which may affect one or both eyes, occur in children younger than 10, with most younger than 5 years at diagnosis. They are most common in children who have the genetic condition neurofibromatosis 1. Due to the position of the tumor, it may also affect the child’s neuroendocrine (hormone system).
The most common symptoms of optic pathway glioma are:
In addition to a physical examination, doctors diagnose optic pathway gliomas with
If a child has neurofibromatosis 1, vision is followed closely. If it starts to worsen, a doctor may order a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan to confirm the diagnosis. After all tests are completed, doctors will be able to outline the best treatment options.
The most common treatments for optic nerve glioma are:
Surgery is usually not preferred for this type of tumor, but can sometimes relieve symptoms and/or improve vision.
Mark Kieran, MD, PhD, provides a one-hour presentation for parents on latest approaches to treating brain tumors; sponsored by American Brain Tumor Association.