Eye-rubbing optic neuropathy

Am J Ophthalmol. 2002 Sep;134(3):460-1. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9394(02)01498-8.


Purpose: To describe a patient whose "normal tension glaucoma" appears to have been produced by a long-standing habit of repetitive, bilateral eye rubbing.

Design: Observational case report.

Methods: A 46-year-old man presented with a "haze" over the left eye and had progressive bilateral optic neuropathy associated with bilateral normal intraocular pressure, pathological cupping of the optic disks, and nerve fiber bundle visual field defects.

Results: Over a 4-year period, vision in the left eye deteriorated to no light perception. Progressive deterioration in the right eye stopped only after the patient ceased a 20-year habit of forceful rubbing of his eyes. After that, the decline in vision was terminated and both visual acuity and visual field were stabilized over an 8-year follow-up.

Conclusion: It may be appropriate to include "eye rubbing" in the differential diagnosis of unexplained progressive optic neuropathy in presumed normal tension glaucoma.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Eye*
  • Glaucoma, Open-Angle / etiology
  • Glaucoma, Open-Angle / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Intraocular Pressure
  • Male
  • Massage / adverse effects*
  • Middle Aged
  • Optic Nerve Diseases / etiology*
  • Optic Nerve Diseases / physiopathology
  • Vision Disorders / etiology
  • Vision Disorders / physiopathology
  • Visual Acuity
  • Visual Fields