Ophthalmoscopic evaluation of the optic nerve head

Surv Ophthalmol. 1999 Jan-Feb;43(4):293-320. doi: 10.1016/s0039-6257(98)00049-6.


Optic nerve diseases, such as the glaucomas, lead to changes in the intrapapillary and parapapillary region of the optic nerve head. These changes can be described by the following variables: size and shape of the optic disk; size, shape, and pallor of the neuroretinal rim; size of the optic cup in relation to the area of the disk; configuration and depth of the optic cup; ratios of cup-to-disk diameter and cup-to-disk area; position of the exit of the central retinal vessel trunk on the lamina cribrosa surface; presence and location of splinter-shaped hemorrhages; occurrence, size, configuration, and location of parapapillary chorioretinal atrophy; diffuse and/or focal decrease of the diameter of the retinal arterioles; and visibility of the retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL). These variables can be assessed semiquantitively by ophthalmoscopy without applying sophisticated techniques. For the early detection of glaucomatous optic nerve damage in ocular hypertensive eyes before the development of visual field loss, the most important variables are neuroretinal rim shape, optic cup size in relation to optic disk size, diffusely or segmentally decreased visibility of the RNFL, occurrence of localized RNFL defects, and presence of disk hemorrhages.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anthropometry
  • Arterioles / pathology
  • Glaucoma / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Nerve Fibers / pathology
  • Ophthalmoscopy*
  • Optic Atrophy / pathology
  • Optic Disk* / anatomy & histology
  • Optic Disk* / blood supply
  • Optic Disk* / pathology
  • Optic Nerve / pathology
  • Optic Nerve Diseases / diagnosis
  • Retinal Artery / pathology
  • Retinal Hemorrhage / pathology