Methanol optic neuropathy: a histopathological study

Neurology. 1982 Oct;32(10):1093-100. doi: 10.1212/wnl.32.10.1093.


The histopathologic effects of methanol on the optic nerve were studied in four patients. Circumscribed myelin damage occurred behind the lamina cribrosa in each nerve. Axons were preserved. Demyelination also occurred in cerebral hemispheric white matter in one patient. This selective myelinoclastic effect of methanol metabolism is probably caused by histotoxic anoxia in watershed areas of the cerebral and distal optic nerve circulations. Juxtabulbar demyelination may cause optic disk edema in methanol poisoning by compressive obstruction of orthograde axoplasmic flow. Visual loss may be due to disruption of saltatory conduction. Retrolaminar demyelinating optic neuropathy is an early morphologic correlate of visual loss in methanol intoxication.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Brain Diseases / chemically induced
  • Brain Diseases / pathology
  • Cerebral Cortex / pathology
  • Formates / poisoning
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methanol / poisoning*
  • Middle Aged
  • Myelin Sheath / pathology
  • Optic Nerve / blood supply
  • Optic Nerve / ultrastructure
  • Optic Nerve Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Optic Nerve Diseases / pathology
  • Vision Disorders / chemically induced
  • Vision Disorders / pathology


  • Formates
  • Methanol