Optic Disc Drusen in Patients With Ocular Hypertension: A Case Series and Review of the Literature

J Neuroophthalmol. 2022 Dec 1;42(4):470-475. doi: 10.1097/WNO.0000000000001647. Epub 2022 Aug 2.


Background: The identification of glaucomatous optic neuropathy in the setting of optic disc drusen (ODD) is a challenge, and the decision of whether to offer treatment in the form of intraocular pressure (IOP) reduction is controversial. Here, we present a series of patients with coexisting ocular hypertension and ODD to evaluate clinical features, treatment options, and progression of optic neuropathy. In addition, a review of the literature on ODD with elevated IOP is provided.

Methods: Six patients with ODD and a history of ocular hypertension are presented. Components of the examination and imaging modalities used to establish the diagnosis of ODD were recorded and a description of ocular hypertension history, glaucoma testing, and the potential treatment of IOP were also provided.

Results: In this series, 4 of 6 patients with concurrent ocular hypertension and ODD showed progression of optic neuropathy as assessed by visual field or retinal nerve fiber layer thickness. Of the 2 patients who did not show evidence of progression, 1 was treated with IOP-lowering medications and 1 was observed off treatment. Of the 4 patients who showed evidence of progression, all 4 were initially treated with IOP-lowering medications and 2 ultimately went on to have trabeculectomy surgery. In the patients with progressive optic neuropathy, lowering the IOP seemed to halt the progression suggesting there was a pressure-sensitive component.

Conclusions: Distinguishing changes to the optic nerve, particularly the structural changes at the lamina cribrosa of true glaucomatous optic neuropathy in the setting of ODD, is a challenge. Careful consideration of risk factors including age, presenting features, progression indicators, and management goals is to be accounted for in the decision to offer treatment. We see the presence ODD in the patients with ocular hypertension as an additional risk for progressive changes to the nerve fiber layer and visual field that needs to be considered when determining whether to initiate therapy. Our data suggest that treatment of IOP in the patients with ocular hypertension with ODD and evidence of progression reduces the risk of further progression. Further work is needed to determine whether progression of optic neuropathy in the setting of coexisting ODD and ocular hypertension is related mechanistically to predominantly an ODD-type process, a glaucomatous process, or a combination thereof.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Glaucoma* / complications
  • Glaucoma* / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Intraocular Pressure
  • Ocular Hypertension* / complications
  • Ocular Hypertension* / diagnosis
  • Ocular Hypertension* / therapy
  • Optic Disk Drusen* / complications
  • Optic Disk Drusen* / diagnosis
  • Optic Nerve Diseases* / complications
  • Optic Nerve Diseases* / diagnosis
  • Optic Nerve Diseases* / therapy