Reviewed by Wenbo Zhang, PhD
“Traumatic head injury with concurrent damage to the optic nerve can cause traumatic optic neuropathy (TON) and resultant interruption of the transfer of information from the eyes to the brain,” said Dr. Zhang, associate professor, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston. “This happens often in situations such as during war, an assault, the result of a motor vehicle accident, or any damage that causes tissue swelling and inflammation.”
These kinds of injuries not only can affect the optic nerve, but also can cause ganglion cell body loss.
With these types of injuries, the neurons are incapable of sending information and—depending on the degree of cellular loss—can result in complete irreversible blindness, according to Dr. Zhang.
The logical question that arises is: How can this situation be prevented or treated? he posed.
“Inflammation is the key player in retinal and neuronal damage,” Dr. Zhang said.
Inflammation is a two-edged sword in the body. On one hand, it is the body’s defense against injury and pathogens and can initiate wound healing.
However, sometimes there can be too much of a good thing if inflammation becomes out of control. In that situation, inflammation can be the body’s worst enemy by making the injury worse and causing apoptosis.